Speaking on the ARK Invest podcast, Musk said he's "fully certain" the technology is ready to go.
"The car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without an intervention," Musk said, who is known for splashy actions and controversial pronouncements.
Developing the last “1 percent” of full autonomy is the most difficult part of the project, he said. Still, the all-electric Teslas will be “feature-complete” by the end of the year, and the tech will be even more reliable in 2020.
"My guess as to when we would think it's safe for somebody to essentially fall asleep and wake up at their destination? Probably towards the end of next year," Musk said.
The entrepreneur said regulators must decide when the autonomous features will require human oversight and derided California regulators as "overzealous” but characterized federal regulators as “good."
Last February, the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced new rules for the testing and public use of autonomous vehicles, including protections to prevent the vehicles from being hacked. Support for the technology slipped among those surveyed in the Bay Area, following the killing of a pedestrian by an autonomous Uber vehicle in Arizona. Uber suspended testing of its autonomous vehicle program for several months to address safety concerns.
Musk has previously landed in hot water with the SEC for his public pronouncements, suggesting that Tesla had secured funding to take the company private---a claim that later proved false.