Elon Musk: Fully autonomous Tesla will drive across the country by the end of 2017

A Tesla vehicle will drive in fully autonomous mode from LA to New York City by the end of 2017, company CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday during a press call.

“I feel pretty good about this goal. We’ll be able to do a demonstration guide of full autonomy all the way from LA to New York. So basically from home in LA to Times Square in New York. And then have the car go and park itself by the end of next year,” Musk said during a press call.

Earlier this year, Musk said he expected a Tesla to be able to drive itself across the country by 2018. But from the sound of it, Tesla is ahead of schedule.

The company announced on Wednesday the next generation of its Autopilot system, which includes new hardware that will enable fully autonomous driving. In other words, all the pieces of hardware are now being included on Tesla vehicles so that they have the capability to be completely driverless once the software is ready and regulations are in place.

“The foundation has been laid for fully autonomous, it’s twice as safe as a human, maybe better,” Musk said during a media call Wednesday evening.

Tesla vehicles will now have eight surround cameras that provide 360 degrees of vision at up to 250 meters of range, the company said in its statement. The system will also include 12 ultrasonic sensors and an improved forward-facing radar that is capable of working in extreme weather conditions.

While Tesla cars will now have the hardware in place to be truly driverless, it’s unclear when its cars will actually get this functionality.

“Self-Driving functionality is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary widely by jurisdiction. It is not possible to know exactly when each element of the functionality described above will be available, as this is highly dependent on local regulatory approval,” the company said on its website.

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