Elon Musk: Fully Autonomous Cars Are Just A Few Years Away

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, sees the future of autonomous cars driving on their own to pick up their owners just a few years away. After all, Tesla and Elon Musk already have cars which will park on their own while drivers are standing on the curb watching.

According to Jalopnick, the Tesla Model S and Model X car has an update which allows them to park themselves and to be summoned to their owners. Although the vehicles with the updates are not fully autonomous, Elon Musk sees the future of vehicles as vehicles which could drive themselves from coast to coast per owners’ instructions.

“If you’re in New York and the car’s in Los Angeles, you can summon your car to you from your phone and tell the car to find you, and it’ll automatically charge itself along the journey,” Elon Musk said while on a conference call at the Detroit Auto show.

The fully electric car, which could act all on its own would be about 24 to 36 months away, predicts Elon Musk.

Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes fully autonomous cars will be a reality in just a few years.

For now, the new v7.1 software release on the Tesla Model S and Model X improved lane guidance and allows owners to restrict their speeds and limits certain autonomous usage in residential areas. According to The Verge, irresponsible drivers were invoking the Autosteer function in residential areas, so now the Autosteer function cannot be used in these areas.

The update allowed the electric vehicles to have “curve-speed adaptation” so that “the car will automatically look at oncoming curves…and automatically reduce the speed,” according to Elon Musk.

Elon Musk says the new update also gives drivers the Summon feature, which allows drivers to place their vehicles in spots while they are not inside the car. For example, if the owner owns a small garage and wants to park the automobile in the garage without being in the it, the owner can use an app or the keyfob to “summon” the vehicle into the garage without actually being in the vehicle to drive it.

Tesla and Elon Musk encourage everyone to keep their finger over the cancel button while using the Summon feature in case something goes wrong. The vehicle cannot detect certain obstacles, must be used on a flat driveway surface, and should only be used on the owner’s private property. Summon is still in beta mode, says Musk, so it should always be used with caution.

“It’s still beta,” Elon Musk said. “There are many different parking garages where it might not always work, so you can stop the auto-park function at any time by tapping the key.”

Tesla Model s
The Tesla Model S holds an update in software which includes a taste of some autonomous features that Elon Musk believes could be the full reality of future Tesla cars.(Photo by Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images)

“The car can even detect if a fairly small dog walks past,” Elon included. “It’s not absolutely perfect, but I think it’s probably better than a person right now.”

However, a driver can’t just summon an automobile anywhere, as Elon hopes for the future. The vehicle has to be lined up in place before the driver uses the app or keyfob to summon the car to its destination. It also has to be within 33 feet of its destination. The vehicle can only drive itself directly forward in these instances, so summoning a car from around the block to pick you up from the gym isn’t happening yet. Elon Musk believes drivers will be able to do this and other vehicle-related autonomous activity in just two or three years, though.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]