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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.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.