Elon Musk: Fully Autonomous Cars Possible Within Two Years

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2016 Tesla Model S

2016 Tesla Model S

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Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] recently introduced a software update for its Model S that enabled the car to operate autonomously in certain situations, namely on fairly straight, multi-lane highways. However, cars capable of navigating any type of road or traffic conditions autonomously are just two years away, according to the electric car company’s CEO Elon Musk.

Musk made the comments during a recent interview with Fortune. He explained that all the technology necessary for a fully autonomous car is already here, and that engineers now need to refine the technology and ensure that it works across a number of environments.

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“We’re going to end up with complete autonomy, and I think we will have complete autonomy in approximately two years,” Musk said.

Incidentally, two years from now Tesla will be introducing to the market its highly anticipated Model 3. The car will be revealed early next year but won’t enter production until 2017. It will likely contain much more capable autonomous technology but don’t put away your license just yet.

During his interview, Musk reiterated that the legislative environment will slow the introduction of autonomous cars. He said the industry will need data that shows autonomous technology is safer than human drivers before it will be allowed by regulators. In the meantime, Tesla’s cars will be fitted with the technology which will work in the background and continue to gather data on what would have happened if the car had been in full control.

Musk’s comments come just days after California regulators drafted proposals that would require autonomous cars to have a steering wheel and pedals plus a capable, licensed-driver behind the wheel to take control should something go wrong. Such rules would negate many of the benefits autonomous cars could offer such as providing flexible transport for the elderly and vision impaired.

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