Tesla's cars will in August suddenly activate "full self-driving features," the company's chief executive Elon Musk tweeted on Sunday, three days after federal investigators said a Tesla SUV driving semi-autonomously had accelerated over 70 mph and smashed into a highway barrier. Musk's promotion to his millions of followers -- that the fantastic future of self-driving cars might only be a few months away -- appeared to give the company a leg-up in the auto industry's most competitive technological race. Tesla's stock price jumped Monday by more than 4.5 percent. A Tesla spokesperson on Monday said the cars would only start offering a limited number of as-yet-undisclosed features, not full autonomy itself. But safety experts worried the grand promises of full self-driving capabilities could lull drivers into a false sense of security for technologies that are still largely unproven on the road.
Buyers of Tesla's Model S and Model X cars will start getting new self-driving capabilities in their vehicles around mid-December, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced. In a tweet Sunday, noticed by Electrek, Musk said the feature should arrive in "about three weeks." He also said the new features will be rolled out incrementally, in "monthly releases." In October, the car maker announced all of its cars in future will be equipped with a heavily upgraded version of Autopilot, which practically allows for full autonomy in driving. The current system will be upgraded to 8 cameras and 12 supersonic sensors, and it will have a huge increase in processing power.
Tesla's across-the-board price drops have been helpful for new car buyers, but painful for veteran owners who just watched their EV's value plunge. There's some consolation, however: Tesla is lowering the prices of its autonomy upgrades. Anyone who bought a vehicle before the price drops can buy the Autopilot upgrade for $2,000 after delivery, or half as much as before, while springing for the Full Self-Driving pack on top of that costs $3,000 instead of the earlier $7,000. You're saving about $6,000 if you go all-in, Tesla said. Those who already splurged on the self-driving option won't be completely out of luck.
Elon Musk wants you to take your hands off the wheel, foot off the gas, and let him do the driving. Rather, let his cars take over. Tonight, at a press conference, he announced that every new Tesla will be fully capable of driving itself. After being upgraded with a suite of cameras and sensors, Musk says this means his cars will have level 5 autonomy--the highest level, which requires zero interaction from the driver. The current generation of Tesla's Autopilot is really just advanced cruise control.