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Elon Musk: True Autonomous Driving is 5-6 Years Away

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, spoke with Bloomberg TV's Betty Liu in Hawthorne, California and took her on a test drive of the newest Tesla electric car, all-wheel-drive version of the Model S sedan. Musk discussed the Tesla's new Model D, the "auto drive" feature, autonomous driving, government regulations, legal liability, and Tesla stock.

On the legal implications for Tesla of the "auto-pilot" feature, Musk said: "I think we're going to be quite clear with customers that the responsibility remains with the driver. We're not asserting that the car is capable of driving in the absence of driver oversight. And that will be the case at some point in the future, like maybe five or six years from now I think we'll be able to achieve true autonomous driving where you could literally get in the car, go to sleep and wake up at your destination."

When asked whether he was surprised by Tesla's stock rising following his Tweet, Musk said: "That seems like an unlikely thing to happen just based on a tweet, but I don't know. Maybe - I don't know. Maybe it's surprising. I don't really follow the stock that much. So I think the stock moves for random reasons. And if that ends up being a mood barometer than it's not a happy land."


Video: Elon Musk: I Don't Follow Tesla Stock That Much

Courtesy of Bloomberg Television


Tesla’s Musk Unveils All-Wheel-Drive Model S Car

Courtesy of Bloomberg Television


Tesla's Elon Musk: Autonomous Driving Is Five Years Away

Courtesy of Bloomberg Television


Driving Tesla With Musk: Zero to 60 and Testing Autopilot

Courtesy of Bloomberg Television

 

On whether he was surprised that the internet got it right following his "D" Tweet:

"I think the internet is very good at figuring out secrets at this point. There's no privacy anymore. I think we were able to keep a few of the important details."

On whether he was surprised by Tesla's stock rising following his Tweet:

"That seems like an unlikely thing to happen just based on a tweet, but I don't know. Maybe - I don't know. Maybe it's surprising. I don't really follow the stock that much. So I think the stock moves for random reasons. And if that ends up being a mood barometer than it's not a happy land."

On whether he thinks Tesla's stock price is still a little high, as he said a few weeks ago:

"Well it depends on how people - if somebody is a long-term holder of the stock I think there's a lot of appreciation that will occur in the long term. In the short term it's difficult to predict these fluctuations, but it does seem as though for a company that had a few billion dollars of revenue last year to have $30 plus billion market cap is on the high side. And I think that's I think something about (inaudible) who say that."

"I just I feel like it's always difficult to predict the short-term fluctuations. So if someone (inaudible) the stock I don't think they should sell the stock. I think it will appreciate upwardly, be much higher than it is today, but in terms of short-term fluctuations that's impossible to say."

On the legal implications of having autopoliot in the Model S:

"So I think it's important for us to differentiate autonomous driving versus autopilot. Autopilot is what we have in airplanes. For example we use the same term that is in airplanes where there is still an expectation that there will be a pilot. So the onus is on the pilot to make sure that the autopilot is doing the right thing. It's not - we're not yet at a stage where you can go to sleep and wake up at your destination. And we would have called autonomous instead of autopilot if that was the case."

"But what we are doing is making it a lot easier and more comfortable to drive the car, and incorporating a lot of active safety features so the car will stay in its lane, will automatically brake, will maintain a distance to other cars, will avoid like highway barriers and other obstacles."

"I think we're going to be quite clear with customers that the responsibility remains with the driver. We're not asserting that the car is capable of driving in the absence of driver oversight. And that will be the case at some point in the future, like maybe five or six years from now I think we'll be able to achieve true autonomous driving where you could literally get in the car, go to sleep and wake up at your destination."

"But in order to do that you have to have fully redundant systems. Everything has got to be redundant so that any one system breaking does not result in an accident. And you also have to prove that out over millions of miles of driving. And then of course then we have to prove that to the regulators to convince them that it's safe. And so I think from the point at which true autonomous driving is possible, which I now think is probably in a five or six-year time frame--"

"And a couple years ago I thought it was more like ten years, but based on the rate of improvement that I'm seeing in the progress we're making I think we'll probably be able to do it in five or six years. And then it's probably going to take two or three years after that before the regulators approve it because they'll want to make sure that it's really a lot safer than driving with a person. And the standard for fully autonomous driving is going to be much greater than for a person. Because if just equivalent that wouldn't be enough."

On whether there will be a change in the driving range given some of these improvements:

"Yes. So the way we're doing dual motor it actually enables a range increase because we're able to balance the efficiency of the motors a lot more. So if you just have one motor it's always on a particular power (inaudible) efficiency curve. But if you have two motors you can optimize between them and actually have the motors operate in their more efficient regime more of the time. And the net result is that we're able to get ten miles more highway range just by going to dual motors, whereas in every other all-wheel drive system you lose range. In this one you gain it."

 

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