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Despite baby steps, fully self-driving cars long way off: Venture capitalist

Artificial intelligence won't be able to control all aspects of operating a motor vehicle for quite some time, said technology trend spotter Scott Kupor.

"It's going to be a long time ... before we get to fully autonomous vehicles," the managing partner of venture capital powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday.

"We're not going to go from where we are today to fully autonomous vehicles tomorrow. There are different stages of autonomous vehicles," he said, such as human-assisted autonomous driving.

In the race to build self-driving cars, Silicon Valley heavyweights, including the Google unit of Alphabet and Tesla Motors — and traditional automakers, such as Toyota and General Motors, are vying to own the road.

Smaller companies like Comma.ai, founded by George Hotz, are also in the game. The 26-year-old Hotz, who was the first to jailbreak an iPhone in 2007 when he was a teenager, is building a kit aimed at giving any vehicle self-driving capabilities. He wants to bring the kit to market by year-end for a cost of under $1,000.

"We've got … Comma.ai which is basically using machine learning to basically figure out how to build an autonomous vehicle," Kupor said, whose Andreessen Horowitz led a $3.1 million funding round for the start-up in April.

At the time, Andreessen Horowitz general partner Chris Dixon wrote a blog post about what led to the firm's investment in Comma.ai: "I came away convinced that George's system is a textbook example of the 'WhatsApp effect' happening to AI."

The mention of WhatsApp in the same breath as Comma.ai was a pretty heady comparison considering the messaging start-up sold to Facebook for $19 billion in 2014.

But the numbers don't lie. Forecasts from analytics firm IHS Automotive call for sales of nearly 21 million autonomous vehicles in 2035. Between now and 2035, IHS estimates nearly 76 million vehicles with some level of autonomy will be sold globally.

Despite the enthusiasm from many consumers and investors, the idea of self-driving has come under scrutiny recently, as federal regulators opened an investigation into the role Tesla's Autopilot system might have played in a fatal accident in May.

Tesla founder Elon Musk, however, told The Wall Street Journal that the electric automaker has no plans to disable the feature.

For his part, Andreessen Horowitz's Kupor said he believes self-driving cars will prove to be safer. "There's reason to believe that relative to humans driving ... [safety] actually might be better."

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