Tesla CEO Elon Musk told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Tesla’s fully autonomous cars will be far safer than human drivers when they hit the market within five to six years.
“They will be a factor of 10 safer than a person [at the wheel] in a six-year time frame,” Musk said.
He said “machine vision,” or the car’s ability to identify an object and take the right course of action, is the biggest issue slowing the release of fully autonomous cars. There are also some regulatory issues that needs to be solved that could delay the production another few years, he said.
Musk’s six-year timeline for a fully autonomous vehicle is pretty ambitious compared to some of his competitors. General Motors, for example, has indicated it would be ready to offer autopilot systems — not fully autonomous cars — by 2020, which controls parts of the driving, like only on the highways. Tesla’s goal for autopilots is 2016.
During the interview, Musk also said Tesla is on pace to “generate strong free cash flow” by the third quarter of 2015. Free cash flow is the amount of cash left for a company after taking out all the required costs and expenditures, which allows companies to pursue new opportunities.
Musk said much of the free cash flow will be spent on building its Gigafactory, the advanced battery plant that could cost more than $US5 billion.
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