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"Major product announcements... you shouldn't do those on an earnings call," Musk said Wednesday after the company reported its second-quarter results. "All I will say is full autonomy is going to come a hell of a lot faster than anyone thinks it will. And, I think what we've got under development is going to blow people's minds."
Tesla's semi-autonomous driving technology — called Autopilot — has been the focus of a lot of awe, and, more recently, a fair amount of scrutiny and criticism. A fatal crash in Florida in May involving Autopilot drew at least one federal investigation and calls to disable the system. Tesla also recently ended its relationship with Mobileye, which supplies technology for the system.
But, along with the Model 3 — a more affordable version of its electric cars — autonomy is one of the company's top two priorities, Musk said.
He was not forthcoming with details, but did say the company is already making strides in making cars fully autonomous. The challenge is not so much in the hardware, which Musk said, is already there.
"Full autonomy is about developing advanced narrow AI, for the car to operate on," he explained. "When I say narrow AI, it is not going to take over the world, but it needs to be good at driving a car. So increasingly sophisticated neural nets that can operate in reasonably sized computers in the car. That is our focus. I am very optimistic about this. It blows me away. If I am this close to it and it is blowing me away, it is really going to blow other people away."
Specifically asked about the company's mapping technology, Musk refused to disclose details.
"What we have said thus far is that here is a need to have much higher definition maps than currently exist anywhere in the world in order to have full autonomy, and we are in the process of building those, and I think making good progress."