Musk Reads: Elon Musk Makes True Self-Driving Tesla Prediction

Plus, OpenAI and SpaceX stand on the edge of a revolution.

Musk predicts when the self-driving Tesla will be ready; SpaceX gears up for “the biggest change in humanity”; and OpenAI stands on the edge of a new era. It’s Musk Reads #66.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk Quote of the Week

“I think we will be feature complete — full self-driving — this year”

Read more about Musk’s proclamation here.

Tesla Autopilot

Tesla

Tesla’s full self-driving mode could be ready this year, Musk claimed during a podcast appearance. The prediction, made during a podcast appearance, follows a similar claim made during an interview with Kara Swisher last November, and a series of big improvements to the semi-autonomous Autopilot mode. However, Musk went on to suggest that the car may require a competent driver at the wheel, placing it in the realm of level three autonomy. Musk stated that a fully autonomous car that requires no intervention may not arrive until 2020. Read more.

What’s next for Tesla: Tesla is now shipping the Model 3 internationally, having enjoyed big success in North America. Musk claimed this week that the company aims to reach an annual production rate of 500,000 cars per year in 2019, up from zero in 2011.

More Tesla reads from this week:

  • How Tesla’s Sentry Mode Uses Autonomy Sensors to Protect Against Intruders. Read more.
SpaceX Falcon 9 coming in to land.

SpaceX

SpaceX is charting a course to explore other planets, and it makes for some impressive visual spectacles. This week, Musk shared an image of a Falcon 9 coming in to land on a droneship, designed to save money on launches. These savings are being put toward the Raptor engine, aimed at sending the Starship to Mars and beyond. Musk shared video footage and an image of the Raptor engine manifold being cast out of Inconel. Read more.

The firm was also awarded a new contract this week with the United States Air Force, launching two National Reconnaissance Office and one Air Force Space Command mission in a contract worth $297 million. United Launch Alliance won three further launch contracts, one of which covers a 2022 launch for a payload mysteriously dubbed “Silent Barker.” The Air Force previously announced plans to launch a $130 million contract using the Falcon Heavy in the 2020 fiscal year. Read more.

Inverse spoke with Rick Tumlinson, founder of the SpaceFund venture capital firm. Tumlinson, who has testified in Congress for private companies’ involvement in spaceflight, declared the Starship and other sized ships “the beginning of the biggest revolution in the history of humanity, if not life itself.” His firm’s “Reality Rating” has caused a stir in the spaceflight community for ranking private spaceflight players — but it’s good news for SpaceX. Read more.

What’s Next for SpaceX: The firm is expected to start “hop tests” with the test version of its Starship in the coming weeks, delayed due to a storm blowing the “Hopper” vehicle over last month. Musk claims the new design has enabled a faster launch schedule, with an orbital Starship set for unveiling as early as June.

A Boring Company passenger pod

The Boring Company

Elon Musk’s tunnel-digging firm missed out on New York City for three reasons, according to a report last week. City engineers identified three issues with a plan to connect Times Square to John F. Kennedy International Airport: It conflicts with current infrastructure, there are issues around ventilation, and emergency response times may prove an issue. The report suggests the idea of using the car-powered Loopnever left the planning stage despite a more positive receptionfrom San Jose and Chicago. Read more.

OpenAI

OpenAI

The artificial intelligence firm that Musk founded in 2016 may have gone in a less-than-desirable direction. Musk claimed last week that he stepped away from the firm last year because, among other reasons, he “didn’t agree with some of what OpenAI team wanted to do.” It came in the same week the firm took the wraps off a text-generating system deemed so dangerous in the era of fake news that it has chosen not to release it. OpenAI plans to discuss this strategy further in six months. Musk has a broader outline for his vision of artificial intelligence, calling for regulation and attachments to the brain via Neuralink. Read more.

Musk in Pop Culture

Musk may be about to make his Meme Review debut. On Monday, he claimed he had completed filming for an episode of the PewDiePie show alongside guest star Justin Roiland, co-creator of Rick and Morty. Musk is a big fan of Roiland’s show and met the creator in an October 2017 hangout.

Photo of the Week

Tesla starts shipping out 4,000 cars for the European market:

More Musk reads from this week:

  • SpaceX’s Border-Adjacent Texas Launch Site Just Got Some Very Welcome News. Read more.

The Ultra-Fine Print

This has been Musk Reads #66, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

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A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Tesla Autopilot Summon Feature Sends the Car to the Road