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Tesla wants to make fully self-driving cars happen way ahead of schedule.

Stashed in: @elonmusk, My Cold Dead Fingers, Tesla, Tesla!

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Tesla has a big advantage over, say, a new entrant to the automotive game that also wants to offer disruptive autopiloting:

Tesla has a fleet of some 90,000 cars, roughly, on the road right now that it can use as a vast test platform.

Every Autopilot-enabled Tesla is already feeding data back to the mother ship, providing a basis for tweaking the technology for future updates. Tesla's vehicles are quite literally learning the roads that they drive on and are enriching the company's overall mapping efforts. This is something of a secret weapon for Tesla autonomous-driving initiatives: Its entire fleet can learn to drive itself.

If Musk is right about betting on software, then he could advance the timetable on full autonomy by half a decade. Big leaps in automotive technology are held back by hardware. In essence, cars are about as good as they can get, having been steadily improved over a century. Future progress on the hardware side will be incremental, even for Tesla.

That leaves the software side for game-changing innovations.

Musk knows this. That's why he isn't wasting any time.

SEE ALSO: We tried Tesla's incredible self-driving Autopilot system

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