Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Thursday that Tesla is ‘very close’ to developing the tech needed for fully automated self-driving cars. The statement came from his pre-recorded video played at Shanghai in the 2020 edition of World Artificial Intelligence Conference.

The serial entrepreneur claimed that his automobile manufacturing firm may develop the technology and basic functionality by the end of the year 2020. He said, “I’m confident that we will have the basic functionality of L5 autonomous driving this year. There are no fundamental challenges.”

Musk added that the company has solved most of the major challenges and issues related to the self-driving technology required for Level 5 autonomy. Notably, level 5 of autonomy is said to be achieved when the autonomous vehicle no longer requires a person behind the steering wheel. However, he has also noted that there are still some small problems that need to be solved to put the whole system together.

The company currently sells level 2 autonomous cars which require the driver to be alert to deal with unforeseen circumstances. However, Tesla is not the only firm working towards developing self-driving cars. It is competed with firms such as Cruise and Waymo to be the first to develop a fully autonomous vehicle.

Besides their convenience and promises, self-driving cars have also posed challenges to the on-road safety. Moreover, the automobile industry in itself has long been divided on the subject. Many have raised questions and have been wandering if the self-driving will probably be the end of the auto industry ?

Not surprisingly, Elon Musk has been a vocal supporter of autonomous vehicles. He has often opined that autonomous-driving tech will be transformative for the company. It already sells its Autopilot cars commercially. Many have pointed out that the Tesla cars are called autopilot despite the fact that it is only semi-automatic and requires a driver behind the wheel to stay alert at all times.   

As per a BBC report, Tim Urquhart, an IHS Markit Analyst said level five autonomous driving was the ‘holy grail’ of the autonomous vehicles industry and it is a typically bold claim by Elon Musk.

Urquhart added that even if Tesla can reliably roll out the technology in a production environment, the regulatory environment in all the major markets is way behind to allow completely autonomous vehicles on the road.