Elon Musk doesn’t seem quite as confident as he used to when he talked about self-driving Teslas that would not require any kind of driver input or even keeping your eyes on the road.
When Tesla introduced the Enhanced Autopilot Hardware 2.0 (HW 2.0) in 2016, Musk predicted that that moment would arrive in four years’ time, and even though his prediction wasn’t accurate he has maintained the same positive, optimistic and confident attitude regarding this matter until today.
Now the Tesla boss seems to have toned it down a notch, reportedly stating that the Full Self-Driving (FSD) software would not be given regulatory approval to operate without a driver in 2022. Through this he admits, probably for the first time since starting a discussion on this topic, that Tesla FSD isn’t ready to take the place of a human driver.
According to Automotive News, Elon Musk stated during a call last Wednesday that even though he expects another important FSD Beta update to be rolled out by the end of the year, there’s still a lot of work to do on the system before it can be called final, and actually allowing hands-free driving requires separate approval. He said
The car will be able to take you from your home to your work, your friend's house, the grocery store without you touching the wheel. It's a separate matter as to will it have regulatory approval. It won't have regulatory approval at that time.
Furthermore, the regulatory body that needs to grant Teslas the right to operate sans driver is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which is currently investigating the automaker for several incidents that supposedly involved Teslas that were driving autonomously at the time. The NHTSA has been requesting data from the manufacturer and this summer it asked for direct access to FSD Beta.
But Musk certainly won’t be deterred from getting his company to pursue self-driving, one of the reasons being he believes it will eventually end up being the company’s most important source of revenue. And even with his first ever (indirect) admission that he may have been overly optimistic, he will continue to push for this, and the company is reportedly working to provide a major update to the system next year to show regulators that progress is being made.