Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, has stated that the company’s plan to have 1 million Robotaxis on the road by the end of this year is still on, but is still pending regulatory approval. The plan was introduced during Tesla’s Autonomy Day event last year, stating that by the end of 2020, there will be 1 million Robotaxis on the road acting under a form of ride-sharing strategy.
These autonomous taxis will be using the “Fully Self-Driving Capability” of the cars’ Autopilot system which has been in development since 2016. This feature will be uploaded to cars via an OTA update before the end of this year, allowing owners to, theoretically, make money from their cars. However, we don’t hold out much hope, as Musk has often been too enthusiastic on his timelines in the past, and this seems to be a huge step in Tesla’s autonomous features in such a small timeframe.
The following tweet confirms that Elon still maintains trust in the functionality of his cars, but that regulatory approval is what’s currently holding the company back from going further.
Functionality still looking good for this year. Regulatory approval is the big unknown.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 12, 2020
This is surprising, as obviously we are already four months into the year and we mustn’t forget that the Covid19 outbreak will be slowing any advancements and work on the feature.
I must admit, I’m finding it very difficult to share Elon’s confidence. Public-use Teslas have only just learnt how to stop at a traffic light, let alone become driverless taxis for the masses. Unless Tesla has something huge waiting behind its curtains, I don’t think we’re going to see this feature any time soon.
I am much more interested to see what Andrej Karpathy, director of artificial intelligence and Autopilot Vision at Tesla, has to say regarding the timeline of autonomous features. He will be much more up to speed than Elon, while also having no financial (or otherwise) incentives to exaggerate or be overly optimistic regarding the timeline. Only time will tell, but I’m struggling to believe it.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…