Apr 22, 2019

Elon Musk to announce full autonomy for Teslas despite expert skepticism

Musk unveils the Model Y at Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne, Calif., in March. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Amid skepticism, Tesla CEO Elon Musk today will unveil a plan to bring full autonomy to his electric cars, making them truly driverless vehicles, AP reports.

Be smart: Musk's description of Tesla's controls as "Full Self-Driving" has alarmed some observers who think it will give owners a false sense of security and create potentially lethal situations in conditions that the autonomous cars can't handle.

  • Driving the news: The technology Musk claims will make that quantum leap is scheduled to be shown off to Tesla investors at 2 p.m. ET at the company's HQ in Palo Alto, Calif.

Musk indicated in a recent interview that Teslas should be able to navigate congested highways and city streets without a human by next year.

  • "My guess as to when we would think it is safe for somebody to essentially fall asleep and wake up at their destination? Probably towards the end of next year," Musk said in February in an ARK Invest podcast. (CNBC)

The big picture: More than 60 companies in the U.S. alone are developing autonomous vehicles.

  • Some of them are aiming to have their fully autonomous cars begin carrying passengers in small geographic areas as early as this year.
  • Many experts don't believe they'll be in widespread use for a decade or more.
  • Steven E. Shladover, a retired UC Berkeley engineer who has been researching autonomous driving for 45 years, said of Musk's announcement: "It's all hype ... The technology does not exist to do what he is claiming."

Go deeper: Building trust in automated vehicles is a two-way street

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South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures as coronavirus cases jump

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures, with several towns in the north effectively placed in lockdown, as it confirmed two deaths and infections rose to 79.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucus

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders waves to supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to handily win the Nevada Democratic primary caucus, becoming the clear frontrunner among 2020 Democratic presidential primary election candidates.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state with a diverse population to hold a nominating contest, highlighting candidates' abilities to connect with voters of color — particularly Latino voters.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Heat wave melts 20% of snow cover from Antarctic island in days

The effects of February's record heat wave on Eagle Island in Antarctica. Photo: NASA

Antarctica's Eagle Island now has a side that's almost ice-free following this month's searing heat wave in the region, images released by NASA show.

Why it maters: "The warm spell caused widespread melting on nearby glaciers," NASA said in its report. It's the third major melt event of the 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere summer, following warm spells in January and last November, according to the United Nation's World Meteorological Organization (WMO).