Elon Musk's bold claim that Tesla will have Level 5 autonomy by the end of this year is big news. Will they deliver?
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated that the company is “very close” to achieving SAE Level 5 autonomous driving vehicles within the year, Reuters reports.
SAE Level 5 autonomy refers to the highest level of vehicle automation meaning the car requires no input from the driver on highway, urban and sub-urban areas. This means Tesla is very close to achieving the technology that will allow you to watch a movie, or read the newspapers on your way to work while the car does all the rest.
During a video message at the opening of Shanghai’s annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC), Musk added, “I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly. I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year.”
Though it must be said, Elon Musk is no stranger to making exaggerated claims – Tesla claims that its proprietary “Autopilot” system achieving Level 5 puts it well ahead of many other major manufacturers – such as Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Toyota, all of which are spending Billions of dollars in the race to conquer the next frontier of mobility.
Car manufacturers are not all – tech companies such as Alphabet (Google) and Uber are also leveraging Billions and their best ideas to lead the race to SAE Level 5.
If indeed Tesla does manage to achieve its stated goals and produce automation of that power, it puts the company ahead of many major manufacturers who have also committed to introducing their own versions of autonomous vehicles, though only later in this decade.
Volvo, who joined forces with Uber in 2017, introduced a Volvo XC90 last-year that is fully capable of autonomous driving courtesy of key safety and backup features that allow Uber to easily tap into and install its own self-driving system, thereby enabling the possible future deployment of self-driving cars in Uber’s network as an autonomous ridesharing service. The company plans to sell up to 24,000 of these XC90s by 2021, though it will still require the full deployment of Uber’s self-driving architecture.
BMW and Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) who also inked a deal not too long ago, are confident of releasing SAE Level 4 vehicles by 2024. However, Elmar Frickenstein, BMW’s Senior Vice President for Autonomous Driving has previously said that it may achieve Level 4 to 5 automation by 2021.
And Toyota, perhaps one of the more sceptical carmakers in the early onset of autonomous technology, is now pouring Billions of dollars in R&D initiatives to catch up. They have also partnered with tech company NVIDIA in 2019 with hopes of introducing Level 4 vehicles within the decade.
Will we see Level 5 vehicles at the end of the year? It's hard to be certain with Musk, he does have the propensity of pulling a rabbit out of the hat when he needs to. We wait to be wow-ed!