Rumors of Tesla’s Model 3 self-driving features have been circling for a few months, in part due to a cryptic tweet from CEO Elon Musk: “Thanks for tuning in to the Model 3 unveil Part 1! Part 2 is super next level, but that’s for later…”
Plenty of publications and pundits took that as a self-driving hint, that the Model 3 would come stocked with new features never before seen on the road. That could include Level 4 autonomy, also known as “eyes off”, where the car understands how to navigate urban environments and avoid accidents.
Those rumors were shot down earlier this week by Sterling Anderson, head of Tesla’s AutoPilot division, who said that the Model 3 would not be the first fully autonomous car on the road.
“Our vehicles will receive the latest technology as soon as we have it,” said Anderson at the EmTech Digital conference. “We won’t wait for a given model to release a set of technology. Model S and X will continue to lead the way for the next little while in improvements.”
Tesla philosophy is to get features out quickly
Anderson added that it would be against Tesla’s core philosophy to hold features for a new model launch, so we can expect the latest autonomous features to arrive on the Model S and X at the same time once ready.
While we might see some new self-driving features in between now and the Model 3 launch, a fully driverless car is still projected to be five years away from completion. BMW has previewed its driverless car, called the iNext, which is scheduled for a 2021 release.
Anderson confirmed that the AutoPilot has completed over one million autonomous miles, catching up to Google’s self-driving fleet. He also said that Tesla would require a safety magnitude gain of “two to 10 X better than a human driver” before pushing a fully autonomous update to the Model S, X, and 3.