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Tesla 'Very Close' to Making Autonomous Vehicles, Musk Says

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company is "very close" to developing fully autonomous vehicles.

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report is "very close" to developing fully autonomous vehicles. according to the electric vehicle maker's chief executive, Elon Musk.

Shares of the Palo Alto, Calif., company at last check were up 1.4% to $1,385.

Musk said Tesla could work out the basics of autonomous-vehicle technology as soon as this year, Bloomberg reported, citing a prerecorded video of the executive that was played during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai.

Tesla has solved most of the essential challenges of creating a fully self-driven automobile, or Level 5 autonomy, Musk said, reiterating a goal he first expressed last year.

“I’m confident that we will have the basic functionality of L5 autonomous driving this year,” Musk said. “There are no fundamental challenges.”

Competitors in this area include Alphabet Inc.'s  (GOOGL) - Get Free Report Waymo and General Motors'  (GM) - Get Free Report Cruise.

Tesla customers already regularly use autopilot, though the technology is only semi-automatic. The system has been linked to accidents that the company has attributed to human error. 

Tesla is being sued by the widow and daughter of a Japanese man who was killed when a Model X SUV operating on autopilot crashed into a group of people standing on the side of an expressway near Tokyo. 

The complaint was filed in federal court in San Jose, California. On Wednesday the company argued that Japan, not California, is the proper venue for the lawsuit, according to Law360.

Tesla is scheduled to report second-quarter earnings on July 22. Analysts surveyed by FactSet are expecting the company to report a GAAP loss of $1.34 a share, or an adjusted loss of 58 cents a share, on revenue of $4.81 billion.

"Profitability will be watched even more closely this quarter due to the implications for S&P 500 index inclusion," said Rob Maurer, publisher of Maven's Tesla Daily. 

"If Tesla posts a profit, they will be profitable for both the trailing 12 months and the most recent quarter, thus becoming eligible for inclusion in the massive index."