Representational Image // The Summit 2013 – Picture by Dan Taylor / Heisenberg Media – http://www.heisenbergmedia.com

Tesla has, over the years, made a reputation in the industry for their ground breaking technology and ahead-of-the-curve thinking. It was unarguably the company that made electric vehicles fast, affordable, practical, competitive and just downright ‘cool’.  But then, with Elon Musk, nothing is ever enough. Going by that theory, we could have level 5 autonomous Tesla cars “very soon”, based on what Musk says. In simpler terms, Tesla could soon roll out the first fully autonomous electric vehicle.

Elon Musk said at the opening of Shanghai’s annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) that Tesla is just on the verge of a major breakthrough, and might have level 5 autonomous driving technology very soon.

“I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly,” Musk said in a video message addressed for the event.

Even today, Tesla is a prominent name in the autonomous vehicle industry, having delivered ‘Star Wars’-esque technology to its vehicles. The company has launched cars that can be set on autopilot, and require minimal assistance and human oversight. However, no one, including Tesla, has been able to achieve complete autonomy. The closest the company has come to the goal is launching cars with Autopilot driver-assistance system, which requires a human driver to keep his hands on the wheel while the car drives itself. That tech too, has had its own share of incidents.

However, as Tesla is going further down the rabbit hole, it is seeing significant progress. Musk mentioned in today’s lecture,”I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year,” a claim that will be written in golden letters in the history of autonomous vehicles, if it comes to fruition.

Moreover, Tesla is also developing new heat-projection or cooling systems, which will essentially let the company install better computers in their vehicles. This will go a long way in achieving level 5 autonomy, since the task might be a little too heavy for the current gen Tesla computers.

Today’s announcement is a testament to Tesla’s mettle as the biggest automobile maker in the world, a title that it snatched away from Toyota just a few days back.