Ready for your Tesla to drive itself across a continent to meet you? CEO Elon Musk believes the feature could come soon, sharing with his 23.5 million Twitter followers on Thursday that “in a few years,” consumers will be able to use the company’s “Summon” feature to command their car to come pick them up.
The feature would offer a welcome expansion on the existing “Summon” system, which gives Tesla owners the ability to press a button on their smartphone to get the car to “open your garage door, enter your garage, park itself, and shut down.” The feature, released in the fall of 2015, is offered as part of the “enhanced Autopilot” package, which costs $5,000 at the time of the car’s purchase or $6,000 thereafter. However, Tesla has previously teased the future ability to “drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will sync with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.”
Musk’s proposed timeline is a slight revision from previous comments. During a January 2016 earnings call, Musk stated that “in two years you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country…if your car is in New York and you are in Los Angeles, it will find its way to you.” In October of that year, Musk unveiled the “Hardware 2” platform with the necessary cameras and sensors for full, Level 5 autonomous driving. During the October event, he stated that Tesla would complete a coast-to-coast autonomous drive by the end of 2017.
The company has revised its schedule on autonomous driving since the October event. During a February earnings call, Musk said that the company “could have done the coast-to-coast drive, but it would have required too much specialized code to effectively game it, or make it somewhat brittle.” In October 2018, after Tesla delayed a software release that would have enabled Teslas to steer off at the correct exit, Musk noted that it’s “extremely difficult to achieve a general solution for self-driving that works well everywhere.”
Tesla’s next step to achieving this step is the rollout of a new A.I. chip, expected in the next few months, that replaces the Nvidia Drive PX 2 with a processor capable of reading 100 times more frames per second than the existing chip. The chip could finally enable Tesla to offer its futuristic “Summon” proposal.
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