Picture: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr
Tesla CEO Elon Musk was at Stanford’s FutureFest recently and he described how he evaluates the progress and a timeline for artificial intelligence:
“If any given year you find your predictions are going further out or coming closer in, that actually one way to think of acceleration [of progress] because otherwise what’s the quantitative measure of AI?”
During the same talk, which took place in October, Musk said that fully autonomous cars are about 3 years away, a prediction he made several times in the past year or so. But today we learn that Musk updated his prediction to just 2 years.
The CEO made the comment while talking with Fortune’s Kirsten Korosec :
“We’re going to end up with complete autonomy, and I think we will have complete autonomy in approximately two years.”
To be clear, Musk is talking about a “level 4 autonomous vehicle”, which The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) describes as a “vehicle designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip”. The vehicle can be occupied or not.
Musk also added:
“When I say level 4, I mean level 4 autonomy with the probability of an accident is less than that of person,”
As usual, Musk adds that his timeline is for the technology to work. For commercial availability, he predicts regulations could take between 1 to 5 years depending on the jurisdiction. But just like it is the case for Tesla’s current generation of Autopilot, the company will likely include the technology in all vehicles for it to be enabled via a software update once ready.
During the same interview, Musk also addressed the recent controversy with George Hotz’s comma.ai and Tesla’s Autopilot in partnership with Mobileye. Tesla already issued a statement regarding Hotz’s claims that he will soon be able to outperform Mobileye’s technology, but Musk added:
“There’s a ton of hard work and bug fixes, and it’s kind of like painful work, and it’s not fun and after doing that for a few years, if George, is prepared to do that, I think he would have a product that would be competitive with Mobileye. That is the actual path to compete with Mobileye. It is not George hacking by himself for a month. I mean, really. George says he did this with 2,000 lines of code. OK, listen buddy, uh, 2,000 lines of code does not cover the 8 billion corner cases of earth. The world is a complicated and messy place. Two thousand lines of code ain’t gonna cover it.”
At the official launch of the Autopilot in October, Tesla confirmed having a team of about 50 employees working on the software of the Autopilot, while a team of 100 people have been working on the hardware package. This is on top of Mobileye’s team and Musk recenlty announced on Twitter that company is looking for “hardcore software engineers” to add to the group working to make the Autopilot fully autonomous.
Musk also revealed that a “major announcement” is coming regarding a Tesla Autopilot update. We recently revealed that Tesla started testing the version 7.1 of its software, which will include UI improvements, a new self-parking feature, ‘Driver Mode’ and Autopilot restrictions. The CEO had previously mentioned that self-driving on private propriety, in order to allow the Model S to park itself in the garage for example, would be included in v7.1, but it wasn’t in the build released to testers. The announcement could possibly have something to do with this anticipated feature.
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