SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -Tesla Motors chief Executive Elon Musk said on Wednesday that all new Tesla models will come with hardware to enable them to be fully self-driving, as the Silicon Valley electric car company bids to be the first among many rivals to get autonomous vehicles on the road.
The company said that its Model S and Model X electric cars are already being produced with the new hardware, which includes eight cameras, 12 updated sensors, and radar with faster processing.
The new hardware package will cost $8,000, Musk told reporters on a conference call. The software to enable fully autonomous operation is still being tested, he said.
Musk said he expects that by the end of 2017 a Tesla would be able to drive in full autonomous mode from Los Angeles to New York “without the need for a single touch” on the wheel.
He has set ambitious deadlines for Tesla many times, only to see timetables slip. Rival automakers have said they expect to be able to field autonomous driving capability by 2019 or 2021.
Meanwhile, older Tesla vehicles without the additional cameras, sensors and upgraded processors will not be able to drive autonomously, although their software would continue to be improved, Musk said.
For a time, cars with the new hardware will have less capability to assist drivers with steering or braking than older models running Tesla’s Autopilot technology, Musk said. By December, he said, he expects the newer models to reach parity with the older vehicles.
Current Tesla models, which have one forward-facing camera and limited driver assistance in the form of Autopilot, will continue to be improved, Musk said.
Musk said the software system is being built in-house and will run on an Nvidia Titan chip.
(Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Bill Rigby)