Elon Musk says Tesla's Full Self-Driving tech will have Level 5 autonomy by the end of 2021

Tesla's CEO also confirmed that customers won't be able to transfer previous FSD purchases between old and new cars.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read

What has two thumbs and thinks Full-Self Driving will be Level 5 capable by the end of 2021? This guy.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a number of things to talk about during Wednesday's quarterly earnings call, but spent a lot of time discussing the company's Full Self-Driving system. According to Musk, the FSD will be capable of Level 5 autonomy by the end of 2021.

Now, that's a really big claim, and it's hard to see how the system will go from its current beta state -- which isn't even reliably Level 3 autonomous -- to being "at least 100% safer than a human driver," according to the CEO. Musk also claims FSD will be capable of driving the car anywhere under any conditions with no need for human interaction. Tall order, indeed.

The key to getting to that magic Level 5 point involves transferring Tesla's neural network to use surround-view camera footage and then automating the processing of that footage. Tesla is working on a supercomputer called Dojo that is supposed to take on that task, but it's still a big job.

We also learned a few things about the business side of FSD. First, Musk reiterated his stance that Tesla "isn't a walled garden," which means that he's open to licensing the company's tech. This would extend beyond Supercharging, which he's spoken about before, all the way to Full Self-Driving and even to the aforementioned Dojo computer. Musk claimed that he's been in talks with other manufacturers already about licensing Autopilot and FSD.

We also learned that Tesla has no plans to let Tesla owners transfer their FSD purchase to another Tesla vehicle. That means that a customer who shelled out $7,000 a few years ago for technology that didn't exist will now have to spend another $10,000 on the same technology that still isn't ready for public consumption. One could see how that might chafe the faithful. As a consolation (kind of), Musk stated that FSD functionality would be offered as a subscription to Tesla customers in the next couple of months.

Beyond FSD, we learned that Tesla's delays in the production of the Semi and other future models are the result of battery supply constraints, and that even though Tesla has started production on its own cells, it is asking its battery partners (Panasonic, CATL, etc.) to increase output further to help.

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