Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been pretty confident that the company he leads is well ahead in terms of autonomous technology, and now he's made a claim that Tesla will roll out 'autonomous robotaxis' in 2020. Musk made the announcement during a presentation at Tesla's Fremont, California, adding that Tesla may soon build some cars without a steering wheel or pedals. It'll be like hailing an Uber, but without a driver. Elon Musk first spoke about the use of autonomous cars in a ride-sharing service in his 'Master Plan' for Tesla in 2016.
Tesla's plan includes allowing Tesla car owners to add their vehicles to a fleet operating on ride-sharing models like Uber and Ola, with Tesla taking 25-30% of each transaction. All of the current Tesla lineup will be used in its ride-sharing service.
The launch of Tesla's ride-sharing service will depend on regulatory approval, Musk said, adding that initially, it will be available in limited areas with suitable regulations. He also noted that the use of self-driving ride-sharing vehicles should see a boost quickly.
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Elon Musk went on to share that he expects the company to start building cars without manual controls within about two years. He further explained that this will help reduce costs and bring down the price tags on autonomous robotaxis to around $25,000 (approximately Rs 17.46 lakh) within three years.
To validate its claim of being ahead than its rivals in terms of autonomous tech, Tesla's key executives discussed hardware and software in detail at the event. Tesla's self-driving tech uses eight cameras that help deliver a 360-degree view around the car, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and a front-facing radar.
While most rival brands use lidar, which is similar to radar but uses light instaead of radio waves, Tesla refrains from its use. “Lidar is a fool’s errand. Anyone relying on lidar is doomed,” Musk said.
He believes the sensors are too expensive, and that similar results can be achieved using cameras to track objects. “All cars being produced right now have everything necessary for full self-driving. All you need to do is improve the software,” Musk reiterated during the presentation.