Tesla had made plans to take one of its vehicles (likely a Model S or a Model X) on a self-driving cross-country road trip in 2017, but that was ultimately delayed. Now Tesla’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, has stated that the trip will take place in the next 3-6 months. The idea with this is to be a way to show off its self-driving chops, while driving from Los Angeles to New York City, which is a pretty long ride. It was delayed in 2017 due to the fact that the software was not ready to be pushed out to all Tesla vehicles.
The company had begun rolling out its Autopilot feature to all vehicles back in October 2016. This was not a fully autonomous experience, but did make it semi-autonomous, and the company ended up learning quite a bit from the rollout. This was due to the fact that a number of vehicles did get into accidents. Causing Tesla to go back and make some more changes to the software and make it even better. Musk said on the Tesla earnings call this week that with new hardware, and updated software, Tesla’s vehicles will be autonomous. But the issue with rolling it out will likely be regulations. Right now, the government is having trouble making regulations for self-driving vehicles, and it is mostly up to individual States to create regulations. Which, only a few have made it possible to test self-driving vehicles on public roads right now.
Tesla, obviously, has a leg up when it comes to autonomy, even though it hasn’t really done as much testing as say Waymo, GM, or even Ford. And that is because all of Tesla’s vehicles collect data, that is used to improve its ML system. Which could give them a big leg up when it comes to autonomous driving. Of course, there’s still a lot of work to be done here, but it’ll be interesting to see how well the vehicle is able to handle that coast-to-coast drive, and it’ll also be interesting to see which vehicle takes the trip. Perhaps it could end up being the new Model 3, which is the company’s “cheaper” electric vehicle.