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Musk asks for Tesla employees to test out new full self-driving mode

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk is reportedly moving full speed ahead when it comes to autonomous driving.  

Based on an email Electrek obtained this week, Musk is searching for Tesla employees to test out a new hardware update for the currently semi-autonomous driver assistance feature, Autopilot.

We reached out to Tesla to confirm the authenticity of the email, but haven’t heard back.

The new self-driving program has “over 1000% more capability than [previous hardware]!” Musk exclaimed in the email. Now he needs “a few hundred more internal participants” to test out new capabilities made possible by Tesla’s neural net, which the company has called the “world’s most advanced computer for autonomous driving.” Musk also revealed in an earnings call that Tesla is developing its own AI chip instead of working with a chipmaker.

Tesla owners with Autopilot currently can rely on the car to stay in its lane, help steer, brake suddenly, and drive itself out of a driveway or parking spot. A for Tesla testers in September.

As of June, Tesla had self-driving permits for 39 vehicles in California as long as a safety driver was present, according to DMV records. It’s unclear if the new “Full Self-Driving Test Program” will qualify as fully autonomous driving, and whether it’ll take place on public roads and highways or be restricted to Tesla property.

Back in October, Autopilot’s Full Self-Driving option (an additional $3,000 on top of the $5,000 driver assistance feature) was removed from vehicles. Since 2016, Tesla owners had the option to pay for a feature that would (ideally) be added to their cars in the future. 

Now Musk is pushing to bring fully autonomous hardware to customers in 2019. For Musk, that means cars that switch lanes, exit the freeway, self-park, and let you drive with your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road for short and long distances.

For employees willing to test out the new driving feature, the $8,000 cost will be waived, Musk said in the email. Always the salesman, Musk added, “This is the last time the offer will be made.”

Maybe now Autopilot can live up to its misleading name.

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