Elon Musk says Tesla will have robot taxis in 2 years. This time yes?

Elon Musk says Tesla will have robot taxis in 2 years. This time yes?
Elon Musk says Tesla will have robot taxis in 2 years. This time yes?
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk in front of the broken windows of the Tesla Cybertruck.
Photo: Frederic J Brown (Getty Images)

Ah, another day, another overly optimistic date promise. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a veteran in this to promise dates, has dicho that fully autonomous Teslas have been around the corner since 2014, but so far he has had to eat his words. Rather than avoid making those promises, the troll biggest on twitter decided to double down with a new prediction: Tesla will launch a commercial robotaxi by 2024!

Musk made the prediction during Tesla’s first-quarter investor call this week, where he said Tesla is working on a “dedicated robotaxi that is highly optimized for autonomy.” That optimization, according to Musk, means that the supposed vehicle would not need a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals since there is no human driver present. Musk claimed that Tesla is developing the vehicles to “achieve the lowest cost per mile or cost per kilometer considered.” The company aims to reach volume production by 2024.

“That’s really going to be a huge growth driver for Tesla,” Musk said.

The key word, of course, is “aspire”. As anyone who has been privy to the autonomous vehicle segment for the past decade knows, getting a vehicle off a test track and onto public roads requires rigorous testing, verification processes, regulatory assurances, a lot of money, and perhaps more importantly, time. Simply working with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to complete the bureaucratic paperwork necessary to get self-driving taxis on public roads, could take crucial weeks and months off the carrier’s self-imposed deadline. less than 24 months for the arrival of these taxis. Even the US Department of Defense, which has access to hundreds of billions of dollars in funding and some of the most advanced technology in the country, has had problems to rapidly deploy autonomous vehicles. Apparently those restrictions don’t apply to Tesla.

Either way, Tesla’s 2024 target seems unlikely, though less unlikely than it would have been had Musk announced it several months ago. Last month, the NHTSA updated their safety rules so that they no longer require manual driving controls for autonomous vehicles to pass crash test standards. That paves the way for autonomous vehicles to work without a driver’s seat and accompanying steering wheel, or other accommodations intended for human drivers.

However, it’s worth noting that the new NHTSA rules apply to what they call “Automated Driving Systems,” which span vehicles with level 3, 4 or 5 driving automation systems. Tesla commercial vehicles are currently only able of having level 2 autonomy. Tesla is also trailing the competition when it comes to designing the first autonomous robotaxi. Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle division, ad late last year his own autonomous vehicle in development that could come without pedals or a steering wheel. Instead of promising a date, Waymo chose to say that he would arrive “in the next few years.” Even Mercedez-Benz, not exactly known for its commitment to driverless vehicles, already surpassed to Tesla up to Level 3 hands-free autonomy. Meanwhile, in China, Baidu has been charging customers for self-driving rides in parts of Beijing since last summer.

An ambitious or meaningless promised date?

This wouldn’t be the first time Musk has underestimated a deadline or oversold a product. In 2019, Musk said to Tesla owners who were confident their vehicles could be upgraded to be fully autonomous by 2020. Then there’s the oft-mentioned Tesla cyber truck it was supposed to be ready for delivery months ago. Now Musk, during his first quarter, said the company “remains on track to meet volume production of the Cybertruck next year.”

Other times, as was the case with the recent reveal of the company’s humanoid “Tesla bot” last year, Musk shied away from firm deadlines and demos and opted instead to simply rely on a guy dancing dressed in spandex.

At the same time, at least in terms of stock performance, no one seems to care if these dates ever happen. This week Tesla reported $18.86 billion in revenue, an 87% increase from last year. Those crazy profits come from a shortage global chip market that is still prevalent and has forced the world’s largest automakers to implement deep production cuts.

The article is in Spanish

Tags: Elon Musk Tesla robot taxis years time

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