Tesla announces robotaxis coming next year

Robotaxis Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that robotaxis (self-driving taxis) will be available in some markets next year, a feat possible thanks to exponential technological upgrades, he added.

We'll have robotaxis sooner than expected

"I feel very confident predicting autonomous robotaxis for Tesla next year. They won’t be in all jurisdictions, because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere,” the executive added, although, he did recognize Tesla has failed to met its deadlines.

Automakers from all over the world, large tech companies, and start-ups are working to develop self-driving. The list includes Waymo from Alphabet Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc.

Nonetheless, experts believe it will be years before the systems are ready to launch. For his part, Musk predicts shorter timescales.

The executive also predicted that the company will eliminate the steering wheel and pedals from its vehicles by 2021; in other words, shortly after robotaxis are operative.

“I think there will be a transition period where people are able to take over from the robotaxi but once regulators are comfortable with us not having a steering wheel, we will just delete that.”

Prior to that time, Tesla robotaxis will include steering wheels and users will be able to intervene while driving, if they so choose. The firm is seeking to leave the infamous accidents involving some of these models in the past.

An emerging market for robotaxis

Tesla’s ride-sharing service, Tesla Network, will enable customers to transform their Model S and Model 3 into robotaxis. These vehicles will get passengers to their destination using self-driving.

Musk said the Tesla Network would be akin to Uber and Airbnb.

The company would take 25 to 30 percent of the revenue generated by the Tesla Network service, he added.

In case there are not enough robotaxis in an area that requires the service, the company will have some available in its concessionaires.

Furthermore, Tesla believes these vehicles can undermine the competition, estimating that the service could cost around 18 cents per mile; an attractive price, when compared with rivals that charge $2 to $3 per mile.

Meanwhile, a robotaxi could generate about $30,000 in gross profit per year, Musk argued.

The technology is here

Tesla’s vision of fully automated vehicles is close to becoming a reality, Musk said. He also assured that cars already have the necessary software.

“All Tesla cars being produced today have the hardware on board that’s required for full self-driving. All you need to do is improve the software,” he indicated.

Additionally, he presented a microchip for self-driving vehicles. The firm expects that this device can represent an advantage over its rivals and can convince investors that committing to this technology will bear fruit.

High stakes

The robotaxis announcement comes a few days before the presentation of the company’s 1Q 2019 financial results. The report is expected to contain losses from lower sales of the Model 3, with which the company expects to become a top automaker.

“The fundamental message consumers should be taking away today is it’s financially insane to buy something other than a Tesla. It’s like buying a horse”. He also assured that Tesla is the only one with the complete hardware necessary for self-driving.

All Tesla vehicles manufactured nowadays will have the chip. The company is halfway in the process of creating a next-generation chip that will be three times better than the current one, Musk said.

Tesla stocks went slightly up after the robotaxis announcement.

For more information, check Energía16

See also: Tesla cuts the price of its Model 3 for the second time this year

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