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Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told a Chinese audience the carmaker is on the verge of developing fully self-driving cars, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: It's a claim he's made many times before, but has yet to deliver, so take it with a grain of salt.

  • Tesla just raised the price of its "full self-driving package" to $8,000, even though the feature is not yet activated on its cars.
  • That means customers are paying for the hardware, while the software is still in development.
  • For now, Tesla's Autopilot system still requires the driver to be fully attentive and ready to take over at any moment.

What he's saying: In a video message played Thursday during the World AI Conference in Shanghai, Musk said Tesla is "very close" to level 5 autonomy, meaning its cars won’t require any human intervention.

  • "I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year," Musk said.
  • "I think there are no fundamental challenges remaining for level 5 autonomy."
  • "There are many small problems, and then there's the challenge of solving all those small problems and then putting the whole system together, and just keep addressing the long tail of problems."

Our thought bubble: In other words, Tesla is not on the cusp of level 5 autonomy.

What to watch: There could be a court ruling next week in a lawsuit brought by German officials over allegations that the name of Tesla's Autopilot system amounts to false advertising.

Go deeper

Jul 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Tesla's election-year gift to Texas

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tesla's decision to build a $1 billion factory in Texas is a good bit of economic news for a state that's suffering in the throes of the pandemic.

Why it matters: The creation of 5,000 new manufacturing jobs near Austin comes as the state's ongoing coronavirus outbreak threatens to overwhelm hospital systems and tears at the economy.

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.