Tesla has announced that self-driving “robo-taxis” will be available by 2020 as it revealed its new and upgraded tech for autonomous vehicles.
Two days before its first quarter disclosure, the company held an event where it explained its new autonomous technology to potential investors.
At the event, Tesla CEO, Elon musk said, “I feel very confident in predicting autonomous robo-taxis next year.” He also proceeded to say that he expected the plan to have a similar business model to Uber.
Tesla has developed its own computer for self-driving cars. The project first began in 2016 where the neural network chip was built. Each computer has redundancy meaning that if one chip fails, another one will take over.
CEO Elon Musk said that although the company had never designed a chip in the past, it managed to design “the best chip in the world.”
“All Tesla cars right now have everything necessary for self-driving available today. All you need to do is improve the software.”
Tesla cars that are being built today have 8 vision camera, 12 ultrasonic sensors, radar, and the new custom-designed chip.
The company is developing a ridesharing app and has claimed that car owners who agree to participae will benefit greatly.
When asked about his opinion on LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), he deemed it a “fool’s errand” and that it was “expensive and unnecessary”; he also stated “anyone that’s relying on LiDAR is domed.”
Many automakers have been using or are planning to use LiDAR for driver assistance features. The cost of this technology has decreased while its ability has increased.
The company is awaiting regulator approval to go forward with the autonomous ride-hailing plan.
While Tesla already enables some degree of autonomy for its vehicles, achieving full autonomy is still a work in progress in terms of legal and regulatory issues.
Tesla’s electric vehicles do not have”level 4” autonomy which requires a human on standby, nor do they use “level 5” autonomy which would remove human interaction from the equation.
Musk stated that, with this new technology, Tesla drivers “would not need to touch the wheel.”He hopes for regulatory approvals to be finalized by 2020.
According to Musk, Tesla’s approach to autonomy is much better than those of its rivals as they use data from the vehicles on the road rather than rely on simulations as they rivals would.
“We have quite good simulation too, but it does not capture the long tails of things that happen in the real world. The real world is really weird and messy.”