Andrej Karpathy

Tesla Robotaxis Are Quietly Charging Up to Disrupt Already Beleaguered Ride-Hailing Services, Uber/Lyft

Tesla Robotaxis Are Quietly Charging Up to Disrupt Already Beleaguered Ride-Hailing Services, Uber/Lyft

The recent place of Uber in the news isn't in very bright light. The current legal squabbles with California's court system point to just one of many issues plaguing the hail riding company. The dispute is pointing to flaws in the hailing service idea. Namely, the perception of the operator at the wheel is in question.

Seeing the driver as an employee rather than a subcontractor brings all the burdens of employment legalities into play. Other competitors that provide the same or similar service will have to watch closely how this unfolds.

Additionally, while competition like Lyft has shown little concern, the looming Tesla's Robotaxi has the potential to change that.

Unlike Lyft, Uber, and similar hailing services, Robotaxi, as its name implies, is geared towards self-driving car-hailing system. Of course, this comes with more than just bureaucracy red tape struggles.

Public perception relies heavily on the safety of such technology, which is disputed by the experts who are questioning its ripeness. One may point out that many experts have been proven wrong when it comes to the ingenuity of Elon Musk and his teams with a slew of recent successes, showcased by not only Tesla but SpaceX and Boring Company.

To complicate the widespread usage of such forward-thinking technology, the special interest's eagerness to highlight questionable incidents related to the self-driving precursor, namely the Autopilot, is quite obvious.


Also, the recent ruling by the German court to prevent Tesla from using 'misleading' term Autopilot is a testament that technology is just one of many obstacles Tesla must overcome. The German language is full of combination words utilizing prefix auto, as Elon was quick to point out the misuse in the term Autobahn. However, Twitter comments will do little to dissuade the perception or change the law.

Conversely, the current world pandemic might force not only technological advancements but legal ones too. Unlike European countries, the public transportation infrastructure in the USA almost nonexistent, to say at least. Infrastructure constraints aside, the health issue concerns caused by the social distancing limitations within the public transportation signal at the drastic need for change.

This might play into Tesla's hands by forcing the technology usage as need, rather than just a Sci-Fi dream come true.

With million vehicles already on the road, eagerly chatting with Tesla regardless of features that the car owner has purchased, Autopilot improvement is only getting better. The sheer amount of data collection coupled with Over The Air updates and Tesla's propensity to implement continued running change in vehicle production sets the company perfectly as a frontrunner to capitalize on this opportunity.

Recent changes to hardware on new Tesla's vehicle lineup, have been announced in the past and Full Self Driving (FSD) feature update that allows the vehicle, equipped with it, to stop itself on traffic lights, show how close Tesla is.
Elon Musk tweeted that Robotaxi will start with the driver behind the wheel, as soon as the end of this year, if the regulatory process doesn't change that timeline.

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Tom Simic

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