Fully Autonomous Cars

From October 2016 onward, every Tesla vehicle sold has been outfitted with Autopilot 2.0 hardware, laying the foundation for a future software update that would give the cars full self-driving capabilities — referred to by the company as level 5 autonomy. This means that a human driver wouldn't have to provide any input to the car, even under difficult conditions.

Now, there's word on just how many customers invested in this functionality.

There are more than 90,000 vehicles on the road worldwide that feature Autopilot 2.0. According to data uncovered by Electrek via an anonymous source, some 77 percent of owners bought the Enhanced Autopilot package, while around 40 percent opted for the Fully Self-Driving Capability.

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The latter functionality costs $3,000 in addition to the base cost of the vehicle, and the purchase of the $5,000 Enhanced Autopilot option is a prerequisite. It's rather impressive that Tesla has managed to get more than 35,000 people to pony up that $8,000 sum, given that the software update still has no set release date.

However, there is an incentive to pay for these features up front: when the option to upgrade later becomes available, it will cost $1,000 more at that time.

Waiting On An Update

As recently as August 2017, a Tesla representative suggested the company was confident it could achieve its goal of having a car drive itself from Los Angeles to New York without any human input by the end of the year.

It remains to be seen whether the automaker will be able to demonstrate this functionality over the next few months. Beyond that, there are remaining questions about how long it would take for the software update to be given the green light from authorities.

When Tesla sells these features to consumers, there's a warning that they are "dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary greatly vary by jurisdiction."

It's clear that the company has no doubts about its own technical abilities, even if its rivals do. However, the prospect of a truly self-driving car is clearly a major selling point for the Tesla brand — and the thousands of people who have already paid for this functionality are sure to run out of patience sooner or later.

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