Elon Musk has boldly claimed Tesla cars will soon be capable of full autonomy, tweeting his vehicles will "be able to go from your garage at home to parking at work with no driver input at all".
As with all Musk tweets, there's not a whole heap of detail about what that looks like and when it'll actually happen. At the moment, the company is testing a more capable version of its 'Navigate on Autopilot' functionality, supposedly capable of handling roundabouts, freeway exits and lane changes without any driver input.
Initially, the company is planning on having drivers confirm its suggested actions using the indicator stalk, but eventually Musk wants to have the car take care of everything on its own. Obviously, the driver is still legally responsible for the car, even if they're essentially a passenger.
Should it be improved and adapted to support full, driver-free mobility, Tesla's system will need to learn about changeable signals (traffic lights), four-way stop, and give way signs.
Being capable of going from a garage to work and actually, you know, legally being able do it are two very different things. At the moment, Waymo is leading the self-driving charge in the USA, but even its shuttles require a safety driver to oversee things.
California changed its laws in February to allow testing by autonomous vehicles without drivers on board, but only by manufacturers with the correct permits, insurance and safety measures in place. Whether Tesla could earn itself a permit allowing all its vehicles to roam around with no driver onboard remains to be seen, but seems unlikely.
The tweet came amid a storm of comments from the controversial executive, who was back at his outspoken best/worst during an interview with 60 Minutes in the USA.
Musk claimed he doesn't respect the SEC, said no-one is proofreading his tweets, and undermined the power of the company's new chairwoman.
UPDATE, 12/12/2018: A Tesla spokesperson has issued the following statement in relation to the brand's agreement with the SEC:
“We can confirm the settlement is being complied with. This includes having a policy (which technically needs to be in place by December 28) that requires pre-approval of any communications that reasonably could contain material information.”