Tesla’s Robotaxi service may see a launch next year, according to CEO Elon Musk. This was related by the chief executive during the recently-held Q1 2020 Earnings Call, where he discussed the company’s current initiatives such as Gigafactory Shanghai, as well as its plans for future services like the Robotaxi network.
A lot is riding on Tesla’s Robotaxi service. Proposed by Elon Musk on his Master Plan, Part Deux, the Robotaxi model is expected to provide electric car owners with additional income when they are not actively using their own vehicles. The system will operate much like ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft, save for the fact that the company’s vehicles will not have drivers.
The potential for Tesla’s Robotaxi service is vast. ARK Invest, one of the few financial institutions that consider the upcoming service in their models, believe that a ride-hailing service would be the key to the company reaching up to over $20,000 per share on a “golden goose” scenario. This is due to the potential rise of the self-driving taxi market, which may revolutionize public transportation.
Tesla has made steps to accomplish these goals, the largest of which is arguably the release of its Hardware 3 computer, which is custom-designed to allow the company’s vehicles to operate without a human driver. Neural networks that are trained through millions of miles of real-world driving data will also make a critical difference. This requires a ton of work, as discussed by Tesla AI Director Andrej Karpathy in a talk last February.
During the recently-held earnings call, Gene Munster of Loup Ventures inquired about the Tesla Network and its upcoming Robotaxi program. Responding to the inquiry, CEO Elon Musk stated that the Robotaxi network’s deployment would rely on how well the company can roll out its FSD functionalities.
Interestingly enough, Elon Musk stated that once a feature-complete, refined version of FSD is rolled out, Tesla could launch a version of the Robotaxi with human drivers to supervise the vehicles. This system would likely remain in place, at least until Tesla can propose a fully-autonomous ride-hailing service to regulators. Ultimately, Elon Musk stated that he hopes that these can be achieved in 2021.
During the company’s Autonomy Day event last year, Elon Musk stated that he expects Tesla to have Robotaxi-capable vehicles by 2020. This timeframe seems to be out of reach for now, considering the delays in the release of a feature-complete iteration of FSD. Musk was pretty open about his tendency to be overly-optimistic in the recent Earnings Call, though he stated that while there may be delays with his forecasts, “I always come through at the end.” It is very difficult to argue against this point, considering how far Tesla has gone so far since its days with the original Roadster.
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Ma. Claribelle Deveza
Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.