Elon Musk Predicts Fully Autonomous Cars By 2017

Elon Musk has announced he believes Tesla vehicles will be completely autonomous and have an electric range exceeding 1,000km by 2018.

He also predicts that all new cars will no longer require a driver by approximately 2035.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO, as well as notorious futurist Elon Musk stated that the current self-driving AutoPilot feature that is being beta tested at Tesla will be integrated into all the compatible Model S vehicles before the end of October.

Version 7.0 has been released today to Model S owners that purchased their vehicle from October 2014.

This feature includes fully automatic acceleration, braking and steering on motorways in countries that have adapted their road rules to allow it.

The software update has cruise control guided by radar allowing complete halt, line guidance, automatic parallel parking and turn-signal initiated automated line switching.

Tesla says that their new system is ready for the future, with more software updates expected that will increase automation of Model S, to the extent where is will eventually be able to read stop signs and street lights.

It is clear Elon Musk has high expectations for Tesla’s new innovative technology.

Elon Musk expects that the Model S range can increase each year by between five and 10 per cent, thanks to improving battery technology. 

“My guess is that we could probably break 1,000km within a year or two. I’d say 2017 for sure…in 2020 I guess we could probably make a car go 1,200km. I think maybe 5-10% a year [improvement], something like that,” Elon Musk stated during an interview.

Just recently one of the Model S cars drove a total of 452m, 24mph being the average speed, on a singular charge, which is significantly more than previously reported. 

Apparently a more comfortable speed is being taken into account in Musk’s predictions.

In three years we will see complete autonomy

Musk guesses that in approximately three years time we will be seeing full autonomy, but in about a month Autopilot will be turned on at Tesla.

Previous analysts had thought they would see Google and maybe Apple autonomous cars go on sale in 2020 at the earliest, so this prediction is much sooner than expected.

However, regulators may impose limitations, as Musk says full autonomy might not be allowed for up to three years after this.

“It depends on the particular market; in some markets the regulators will be more forward leaning than others. But in terms of when [full autonomy] will be technologically possible, I think three years,” Musk said.

When talking even longer term, Musk says that by 2035 if “civilisation is still around”, the majority of cars on the road will be electric and most likely all cars will be built fully autonomous.

Once again though, this prediction is to be read with caution.

The number of cars on the road in the world sits at a huge 2.5 billion, so a large amount of time will be needed for the transition to electric and autonomous cars.

20 years is the time frame estimated by Musk in which all vehicles will be replaced with a renewable option.

But realistically, new cars take between five and 10 years to completely design and manufacture regardless, so the dream of complete autonomy may only be a few generations away.

Photo courtesy of Maurizio Pesce

The Author

Hi, my name is Erin and I am a journalist, content creator and editor working within the Public Relations department at Australian Solar Quotes. I am passionate about the continuously developing renewable energy industry. I am eager to educate others about the benefits and advancements of sustainable living, and I encourage you to join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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