Tesla will have developed cars with “full autonomy” in just three years, CEO Elon Musk has.
At present Tesla is working on a model that has basic levels of autonomy and Musk said, in an interview with Danish media Borsen, he hopes that the features should come out of beta testing as soon as October.
“The Tesla that is currently in production has the ability to do automatic steering, so autopilot on highways, that’s currently being beta tested and will go into wide release next month,” Musk said.
“We’re probably only a month away from having autonomous driving at least for highways and for relatively simple roads.
“My guess for when we will have full autonomy is about three years. Approximately three years.”
But the Tesla and SpaceX boss continued to say that while it will be technically possible for his fully self-driving cars to exist in 36 months, the regulations surrounding their use won’t be developed by then.
Musk said that officials would still be deciding on the rules for self-driving cars between “one to three years” after a Tesla model is created.
“It depends on the particular market.
“In some markets the regulators will be more forward leaning than others but in terms of when it will be technologically possible I think three years,” he explained in the interview.
In some locations around the world, rules and regulations around self-driving cars – and in particular the testing of them – are being developed by governments. For example, UK officials have drawn up a code that states those testing autonomous vehicles in the UK have to be sober and the cars need to be hack-proof.
During the interview, Musk continued to say that he believes by 2020 an electric Tesla car will be able to travel up to 1,200km with one charge and that in 20 years time the majority of cars will be electric.
Tesla has also just announced its first electric SUV, the Model X, which has Falcon Wing doors.
The car can fit up to seven people and travel around 250 miles on a single charge, the company says. As well as being able to fit all the family, plus extras, the vehicle can accelerate from 0-60mph in 3.8 seconds (3.2 seconds if you select the upgraded model) and has a top speed of 155mph.
Among the car’s array of features is automatic keyless entry, GPS, parking sensors and automatic emergency breaking.
The Model X is expected to ship next year.