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Watch this video of Elon Musk promising Tesla full self-driving ‘next year’ since 2014

Updated Nov 14th, 2022 8:53AM EST
Tesla Model S on the open road.
Image: Tesla

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There’s no denying that the meteoric rise of Tesla transformed Elon Musk into a mainstream celebrity. While most tech CEOs are rarely covered outside of traditional tech circles, Musk has become something of a pop culture icon. He’s been lampooned on shows like Family Guy and even hosted Saturday Night Live last year.

Of course, Musk’s somewhat off-the-wall Twitter account has only cemented his status as a personality worth keeping an eye on. At the same time, it’s no secret that Musk is prone to making ambitious proclamations that don’t always come to pass. Most notably, Musk’s promise to deliver a self-driving car with full autonomy isn’t anywhere close to becoming a reality.

Before delving deeper, it’s worth giving credit where credit is due. Put simply, it’s hard to overstate the impact Tesla has had on the automotive industry as a whole. In just a few years, thanks to the success of the Model S, Tesla emphatically demonstrated that it was possible to release an electric car that wasn’t a clunky eyesore.

At the same time, Tesla’s battery technology alleviated longstanding concerns regarding range anxiety. In short, what Elon Musk and Tesla have accomplished over the past few years is nothing short of astounding. But again, Musk’s statements regarding Tesla vehicles and fully autonomous driving have never panned out. And comically, someone recently compiled a supercut video of Musk promising that fully autonomous driving was just a year away.

The videos take place over a few years. The first one is from 2014.

Elon Musk has been promising a fully autonomous Tesla for years

Most famously, Musk in early 2017 said that Level 5 autonomous driving was going to arrive within a few months. Musk also said Tesla in 2017 would demo a Model S driving from NYC to LA with no driver interaction. Of course, that never came to pass. Musk reiterated that promise once again in 2018, which also never came to pass.

“In November or December of this year,” Musk said in 2017, “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.” Not only that, Musk said the Model S used for the demo wouldn’t follow a fixed route. Rather, the Model S would adjust the route dynamically based on real-time traffic conditions.

And as if that weren’t grandiose a prediction in and of itself, Elon Musk that same year said that Tesla owners in 2019 would be able to go to sleep in their car and wake up when they arrive at their destination. Note that full self-driving capability is different from Tesla’s Autopilot feature.

To be clear, I’m not hating on Musk. If anything, true breakthroughs can only be achieved by dreaming big. Still, it’s comical to see Elon Musk endlessly promising the impending arrival of self-driving cars only to see it not come true.

And with that said, some enterprising Internet user put together a supercut video that compiles several clips of Musk throughout the years promising that fully self-driving Teslas are just right around the corner.

Will it ever be possible to hop in your car, go to sleep, and wake up at your destination? I’m personally skeptical, but I’d love to be wrong. Meanwhile, you may have missed this story about a Tesla in self-driving mode almost killing a CNN reporter.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert 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.