At the summer meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA) recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that autonomous cars will be commonplace in the future. “It will be rare for a car to be produced in 10 years’ time that is not autonomous,” he said.

He adds that in 20 years, cars will no longer come with a steering wheel, and “it will seem anachronistic for a human to be driving a car.” Such a vision points towards cars that will come as standard with the highest level of autonomy (level five), capable of equalling a human driver behind the wheel (fully autonomous)

Tesla’s current Autopilot system falls into the level three category, which allows the driver to take his/her hands off the wheel, but still alerts the driver to take over if necessary. However, the system will only be able to handle “safety-critical functions” under certain traffic or environmental conditions.

The next step, level four, are for vehicles that are “designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip.” Even then, its functionality of the system is still limited, and may not cover every driving scenario.

The new Audi A8 is another example of a vehicle with level three autonomous driving features (part of its Audi AI suite), allowing it to drive itself on highways at speeds below 60 km/h in traffic. Additional features will be introduced progressively, subject to the regulations put in place in each country.

Self-driving cars weren’t the only focus of Musk’s speech; he also talked about the significance of electric powertrains will be featured in half of all vehicles produced in 10 years’ time. “Probably in 10 years, more than half of new vehicle production is electric in the United States, and China’s going to be ahead of that,” Musk said, adding that China is the is the “most aggressive” country on Earth when it comes to promoting electric vehicles.