Tesla Motors announced on Wednesday that its electric cars would be the first in the nation to be offered fitted with the hardware they needed to drive themselves.
According to CEO Elon Musk, the automaker's Model S, X and forthcoming Model 3 sedan would have "the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver."
That constituted full Level 5 autonomy, which did not require any driver involvement, the ultimate goal several automakers and tech companies, including Google, Ford and Volvo, had set to achieve by 2021.
Though Musk did not give a definite date for the technology to be offered to consumers, he said regulatory hurdles would need to be vaulted first.
"It's not up to us, it's up to the regulators, and we hope things don't become balkanised and different in every state," he said, USA Today reported. "It's a question of what the public and regulators think is appropriate. The system will always be operating in 'shadow mode,' though, so we can gather a lot of sophisticated data to show where software could have acted or not acted."
This next-generation of Tesla's Autopilot, as it called the partial self-driving feature in the cars now, would come with eight surround cameras providing 360 degree visibility at up to 250 meters of range.
''The full autonomy hardware suite will be standard on all vehicles Tesla makes from here on out,'' Musk said in a conference call.
That suite would include eight cameras mounted around the vehicles to get a 360-degree field of view, 12 new ultrasonic sensors to detect hard and soft surfaces and a new forward-facing radar capable of seeing through ''heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead,'' the company said.
The vast amount of data would be processed by an on-board supercomputer with 40 times the power of the computer Tesla had used up to this point.