Back in January 2016, Elon Musk posted one of his most ambitious tweets to date. At the time, Tesla just released its V7.1 software, which included the first iteration of Summon. The feature allowed vehicles to pull out or into parking spaces completely driverless.
The feature was quite groundbreaking at the time, especially since it truly was a driverless function in every sense of the word. Tesla, of course, highlighted that drivers are still completely responsible for their vehicle while using Summon. Regardless, there was no doubt that Summon was definitely ahead of its time.
Soon after, Elon Musk posted on Twitter that in two years or so, Summon should work anywhere that’s connected by land. He provided an example of a route — Los Angeles to New York. That’s a coast-to-coast drive, and it unsurprisingly caught the attention and excitement of many.
Tesla ultimately failed to accomplish the feat within Musk’s predicted timetable, and in February 2018, the CEO provided some explanation for the coast-to-coast demonstration’s delay.
“We could have done the coast-to-coast drive, but it would have required too much specialized code to effectively game it or make it somewhat brittle and that it would work for one particular route, but not the general solution. So I think we would be able to repeat it, but if it’s just not any other route, which is not really a true solution,” Musk said during the Q4 2017 earnings call.
Tesla is yet to successfully complete a coast-to-coast zero-intervention drive, even with FSD Beta. Interestingly enough, Musk provided a comment to a recent tweet asking about the long-delayed demonstration. Musk’s prediction was far less committal this time around, but it at least showed that Tesla was still working on a coast-to-coast demonstration for its driverless technology.
While a driverless coast-to-coast demonstration might almost be a vanity project in the grand scheme of things for Musk and Tesla, there is no denying that such a feat would propel the electric vehicle maker far into the lead in the driverless technology race. Even with Autopilot and FSD Beta’s accomplishments today, after all, critics continue to argue that Tesla’s solutions are not driverless because they require an alert human operator. A coast-to-coast drive with zero interventions would likely change such a narrative.
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