Elon Musk Explains Why Tesla's Next Step in Autonomy Is Delayed


Tesla’s next big feature for Autopilot has been delayed due to the variety of lane markings around the world, CEO Elon Musk explained on Monday. “Navigate on Autopilot,” a semi-autonomous driving feature where the car turns off the highway at the correct exit depending on the destination, was pulled from the 9.0 software update prior to its release last month.

The feature was spotted in a number of pre-release beta updates for the Model S, X and 3, but it was ultimately pulled ahead of launch. The beta versions explained that “a single blue line indicates the path ahead, keeping your car in the lane,” while “gray lines highlight lane changes for a more efficient driving route,” also enabling a level of autonomy as the car “will also automatically steer toward and take the correct highway interchanges and exits based on your destination.”

See more: Tesla Autopilot V9 Is Now Available, but Its Coolest Feature Is Missing

Musk hinted at this issue when he held back the feature. Stating that the feature would undergo “a few more weeks of validaton,” Musk explained that it’s “extremely difficult to achieve a general solution for self-driving that works well everywhere.” It’s an issue that many researchers agree about: Shaoshan Liu, co-founder and chairman of autonomous robotics firm PerceptIn, told Inverse this month that “I agree with Musk that self driving in its current state does not work well everywhere.”

Musk previously promised that the company would offer full, hands-off-the-wheel autonomous driving by the end of 2017, using the same set of cameras and sensors found in vehicles shipping since October 2016. It was a far stricter deadline than companies like Volkswagen, which predicted small fleets in cities by 2021. In the wider industry, autonomous car firms have struggled to deliver on the promises of full-blown autonomy, with a Drive.AI representative suggesting that these vehicles could work in segregated lanes to solve some of autonomous driving’s biggest issues.

Tesla is expected to start shipping a more powerful chip to lay the groundwork for autonomous driving within the next few months. Musk may provide more details about this projects when he answers questions on the third-quarter earnings call on Wednesday.

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