Tesla (TSLA): Basic functionality for level 5 autonomy is complete this year, says CEO Elon Musk.

Today, Musk virtually attended the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai and participated in a Q&A session.

Musk oversees several projects involving AI, but the most prominent one is Tesla’s effort to deliver a full self-driving level 5 system.

At the conference, Musk briefly discussed Tesla’s effort to reach full self-driving and showed great confidence in delivering such a system soon:

I am extremely confident that level or essentially complete autonomy will happen, and I think will happen very quickly. I think at Tesla, I feel like we are very close to level 5 autonomy.

The CEO added:

I think that I remain confident that we will have basic functionality for level 5 autonomy this year.

This comment is more in line with his previous claims of a “feature complete” version of full-self-driving.

When Musk talked about a “feature-complete” version of Tesla’s full self-driving system, he means closing the gap between the Autopilot’s highway driving and features like Smart Summon with city driving capability.

Tesla has made progress toward that lately with its new “Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control” feature.

When Tesla does achieve a “feature-complete” version or now “basic functionality for level 5 autonomy” as he just mentioned, it doesn’t mean that Tesla vehicles will be fully self-driving.

The automaker would still need to improve the system.

Musk added during the conference:

I think there are no fundamental challenges remaining for level 5 autonomy. There are many small problems. And then there’s the challenge of solving all those small problems and then putting the whole system together. And then keep addressing the long tail of problems. So, you’ll find that you are able to handle the vast majority of situations.

The CEO added that Tesla is training its system to handle the very odd situation that you can encounter on the road:

You have to have the system figure out and train to deal with these odd situations. This is why you need the kind of real-world situations. Nothing is more complex and weird than the real world.

That’s where Tesla benefits from having hundreds of thousands of vehicles on the road equipped with sensors and camera feeding information to the company.

Here’s the video interview from today’s annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai:

Musk’s latest show of confidence regarding Tesla’s ability to deliver a level 5 autonomous driving system comes as the automaker is doing an important rewrite of its Autopilot program to be released in the next few months.

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