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Elon Musk says a Model S will drive itself from New York to LA this year

Published May 22nd, 2017 7:32PM EDT

One of the great things about Tesla is that its vehicles are beloved for a variety of different reasons. So while some Model S owners, for example, may point to raw acceleration as a key selling point, other owners might instead champion the car’s safety profile or environmental friendliness. Many Model S and Model X owners, though, are particularly drawn to Tesla’s Autopilot software, all the more so because it’s constantly improving and evolving via convenient over-the-air software updates.

While we’re still a ways away from Level 5 autonomous driving becoming a practical reality, Tesla is doing all it can to hasten its arrival. In fact,  Elon Musk during a TED Talk last month said that Tesla later this year will demo a Model S drive itself from New York City to Los Angeles with no driver interaction whatsoever.

“In November or December of this year,” Musk said, “we should be able to go all the way from a parking lot in California to a parking lot in New York with no controls touched in the entire journey.” What’s more, Musk said that the Model S used for the demo will not necessarily follow a fixed route. On the contrary, the Model S will be able to react to traffic congestion in real time and adjust its route accordingly.

Now Musk is clearly no stranger to grandiose predictions, which is why some were quick to react to Musk’s demo promise with some deserved skepticism. Nonetheless, it appears that Musk remains committed towards showing the world just how advanced Tesla’s Autopilot has become with recent updates.

After boasting about an upcoming Autopilot update with a “control algorithm [that] feels as smooth as silk”, Musk fielded a question on Twitter about the aforementioned coast-to-coast demo. When asked if the demo was still on the horizon, Musk affirmed that it was.

Now a demo is obviously one thing, but when such a feature will become ready for the masses is another issue entirely. To this point, Musk during his TED Talk said that we’re just about two years away from a time when Tesla owners will be able to go to sleep in their car and arrive at their destination.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.