Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been pretty adamant about the Autopilot system being capable of a cross-country road trip “soon.” He recently tweeted that he feels as though that functionality should be accessible for the autopilot system by the time Version 10 goes into alpha build.
As for how long that could take, it remains to be seen. Currently, Tesla cars are running on Version 8 of their software and are capable of limited autopilot functions.
Version 9 Coming Soon
It’s somewhat difficult to think about Version 10 functionality when Version 9 isn’t even live yet. However, Tesla has indicated that Version 9 could be live in as little as a few weeks. Speculation holds that Version 9 will include a number of advanced Autopilot features that Tesla has been trumpeting for years.
Autopilot 2.0 has largely been relegated to advanced lane-keeping and cruise control for use on the highway.
Musk’s focus on the cross-country trip as a benchmark of Tesla’s success has been around for about two years now. Originally, Musk likened it to a test of how the summon feature should be able to function. Accord to the CEO, when the summon functionality goes live, it should have a huge range. You should be able to summon your vehicle from anywhere in the Continental US. As such, the idea of being in New York and summoning your Tesla from LA has been a huge point.
While Tesla claims it could technically complete the trip with the current software, it would have to “cheat.” That is to say, currently, Tesla could simply program the most efficient route for the vehicle to take. However, that, they say, defeats the point of the exercise. The point, as Musk has stated, is showing that the Autopilot function should need no input. When completed, it should simply be able to find its own way.
Potential Time Table
As we stated, Version 9 isn’t even live yet. As such, it’s hard to put a strict timetable on the introduction of these Enhanced Autopilot features. However, there have been about 2 years since Version 8 went live, and Version 9 is expected to release soon. As such, a 2020 timeframe seems reasonable for the cross-country trip.
That falls largely in line with projections from many automakers regarding self-driving cars. BMW, for instance, expects its autonomous iNext concept car to be on market by 2021.
The past few months have had numerous ups and down for Tesla, and for Musk. Short sellers are calling for Tesla’s impending doom as the company struggles to hit production numbers for their Model 3. Continued kinks with the Autopilot system and allegations of corporate espionage harry Musk. In short, Tesla needs a big win soon.