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April 24, 2019

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Home » Business » Auto

Get ready, Musk sees robo-taxis inside a year

Telsa CEO Elon Musk said Tesla Inc robo-taxis with no human drivers would be available in some US markets next year, continuing a habit of bold pronouncements that have excited many investors while often missing deadlines.

“Probably two years from now we’ll make a car with no steering wheels or pedals,” Musk predicted, while acknowledging he is often late to meet aggressive targets.

Central to this promise is a new microchip for self-driving vehicles unveiled by Musk on Monday during a webcast presentation. Made by Samsung Electronics Co in Texas, the chip now in all its vehicles is hoped to give Tesla an edge over rivals and show its massive investment in autonomous driving — described by Musk as “basically our entire expense structure” — will pay off.

The webcast presentation came two days before Tesla is expected to announce a quarterly loss on fewer deliveries of its Model 3 sedan, which represents Tesla’s attempt to become a volume carmaker.

After launching the event with detailed technical descriptions of Tesla’s progress on hardware and software by top executives, Musk began hawking the Model 3 and its potential.

“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 said, adding Tesla was the only company to have a full self-driving suite of hardware.

Tesla’s use of the term “full self-driving” garners criticism, as it sells such an option today that is not yet “Level 4,” or fully autonomous by industry standards, in which the car can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention. Musk has said that with the hardware complete, improvements in software will allow vehicles to fully drive themselves in future.

But the technology faces many regulatory hurdles.

Global carmakers, large technology companies and startups are developing self-driving — including Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Uber Technologies Inc.

But experts say it will be years before the systems are ready for prime time.

“A year from now we’ll have over a million cars with full self-driving, software, everything,” Musk predicted. Tesla has been working on a self-driving chip since 2016 and Musk had previously forecast cars would be fully self-driving by 2018.




 

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