Tesla’s full self-driving feature is coming. A leaked image on Tuesday appeared to show the user interface for an internal testing car, which shows how the semi-autonomous Autopilot system interprets the world. While the view bears strong similarities to previous autonomous driving footage released by Tesla, a tantalizing button marked “full self-driving” teases a more advanced mode that suggests complete autonomy.
The engineering car view leaked by Twitter user “TheSciBabe” (captured by Electrek before it was deleted) shows the vehicle in “augmented vision” mode. The cameras show obstacles and roads marked out with a similar style to the full autonomy preview CEO Elon Musk shared in October 2016, just after he announced that every vehicle would ship with eight cameras, and radar and ultrasonic sensors that could one day support full autonomy. Autonomous coast-to-coast driving was initially promised for a 2017 release, but Musk admitted in February that the company missed its deadline for a coast-to-coast solution that soon would have been “somewhat brittle.”
The feature builds on Tesla Autopilot through a series of software updates, which started after the company split with Mobileye in the summer of 2016. Buyers can purchase the feature for $3,000 prior to launch, a figure the company expects will rise to around $5,000 after launch. It’s unclear whether the upgrade will cover a simple software update, but the Nvidia Drive PX 2 is easily upgradeable if the feature requires a more powerful computer.
Musk told investors during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call in February that the artificial intelligence will work like other systems in that it will improve exponentially. Claiming that he’s “pretty excited about how much progress we’re making on the neural net front,” he said progress will “feel like, ‘well this is a lame driver, lame driver. Well actually, this is a pretty good driver. Like, holy cow, this driver’s good.’”
Tesla is unclear on when full autonomy will ship. Musk said during February’s call that autonomy was around three to six months away, but he said during a panel at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, last month that “self-driving will encompass all modes of driving by the end of the next year.”
The next stage in automotive history is almost here.