April 24, 2019
“I feel very confident predicting autonomous robotaxis for Tesla next year,” Musk said on stage at the Tesla Autonomy Investor Day in Palo Alto, California. They won’t be “in all jurisdictions, because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere, but I am confident we will have at least regulatory approval somewhere, literally next year,” he said.
However, he noted that the autonomous cars might have nobody in them; they might be part of a pilot test. He also warned investors, “Sometimes I am not on time, but I get it done.”
Musk based his optimism on the amount of data his company has been able to gather from Tesla vehicles already on the road today, which it then uses to improve its software.
In the past, NBC News reports, Elon Musk’s forecasts for Tesla have missed the mark. Tesla was two years late with the launch of the Model X, its first all-electric SUV. And it was two years late in delivering semi-autonomous features to eager drivers.
When Tesla began to discuss its ambitions in self-driving technology in 2016, Musk said they would conduct a hands-free trip across the U.S. by late 2017. They have yet to complete that mission.
Currently, Tesla offers Autopilot — an advanced driver assistance system — as a standard feature in its cars. According to the company’s website, Autopilot can automatically hold a car in its lane and accelerate or brake automatically, for example, in response to pedestrians or other cars in its way. Tesla can improve Autopilot with new features (or bug fixes) over time via over-the-air updates, as well.
In addition, Tesla sells a Full Self-Driving (FSD), package for its vehicles for $5,000 or more if the software is installed after the vehicle is initially purchased, the network news outlet reports.
FSD features today include Summon, which lets a driver call their Tesla to roll out from a parking spot to where they are standing (with no driver on board). And FSD lets drivers Navigate on Autopilot, automatically driving a car from a highway on-ramp to an off-ramp, making necessary lane changes along the way.
Later this year, Tesla’s website says, cars with FSD should be able to read and respond properly to traffic lights and stop signs, and drive automatically on city streets.
However, Tesla still cautions its drivers, “Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” In other words, keep your eyes on the road.
Research contact: @Tesla