One of Tesla's future plans is to deploy a network of autonomous "robotaxis", dubbed "Tesla Network." At today's meeting of the shareholder of Tesla, CEO Elon Musk presented a question from a shareholder about the possibility of having a human fleet attraction before the launch of the Tesla Network.
This would be similar to Uber / Lyft or other travel-sharing services, but directed through the owner's Tesla application, which they have already installed.
Musk seemed sensitive to the idea, stating that although the ultimate goal is autonomous sharing of hitchhikers, this can be a good palliative before Tesla gains regulatory approval for its robotaxi fleets.
The issue came from shareholder Francois H. on Tesla's public page, adding questions to the meeting:
"Tesla Condisder would release an update for the App for Ride Share Service soon, at least for both Tesla and Current Owners, as an easy way to generate revenue now and fix bugs on the way to FSD and Robo Taxis at future. without Driver? "
This was suggested earlier, but Musk did not seem interested in the idea and preferred to wait for the ability to self-direction before launching any kind of travel-sharing service.
For the first time today, he seemed open to the idea of launching the service with human drivers.
Similar to the way current beta autopilot software works, this would give Tesla a real practice of fixing bugs in the system under human supervision. This would not only help in the implementation of the software, since the bugs could be fixed ahead of time, but the owners could also benefit financially from it.
As the Model 3 is one of the most efficient cars ever made and does not require annual service, it may be an ideal car for the travel-sharing service where drivers can keep a larger share of their earnings if operating costs are low .
We still do not have details on how this system can work, but if it's something like Uber and Lyft, it can be a huge financial advantage not just for drivers but for Tesla itself. These companies currently have market limits of $ 72 billion and $ 17 billion, respectively, while Tesla's current market value is $ 38 billion. If Tesla earned only a fraction of the market that Uber and Lyft have, it could result in significant future revenue for the company.
Not to mention Waymo, Google's autonomous taxi startup, which has recently been valued at more than $ 100 billion.
Musk also reiterated today that Tesla still plans to have 1 million cars on the road capable of becoming robotaxis by the end of next year. While the cars being delivered today are not equipped with the hardware or software for complete auto-driving, the first is a matter of a service visit to a computer exchange and the latter is just a software upgrade away.
So while the hardware and software are ready, in today's production numbers, there will be 1 million Tesla vehicles built to date that have this capability.
Regulatory approval is another matter, however. Whether or not cars are capable of driving without human assistance by the end of next year, governments will have to allow that to happen. That seems at least as unlikely as the technical ability to be available, especially with the level of lobbying we've seen at all levels to try to prevent EVs.
Whether it's punitive taxes on VEs being pushed by the Koch brothers, relaxing the constraints of fuel economy being pushed by carmakers, direct sales bans being pushed by utility groups, or anti-public campaigns being pushed by the oil industry, Tesla and EVs are being attacked on all fronts. You can ensure that all automakers that do not have a self-management system, all taxi companies, and probably other hitchhiking applications will resist the Tesla Network as soon as it becomes technically feasible (and ahead of time, too).
Take by Electrek
Musk is usually optimistic about the timelines, and "robotaxis to 2020" seems to me another instance of this. Although Tesla's Autonomy Investor Day has been comforting in many ways, it still seems very unlikely that cars will be able to drive without anyone within a year and a half from now.
The autopilot gets better all the time and is better now than when Model 3 was launched.
In my review of Model 3, I mentioned how the car was designed with the Tesla Network in mind. Even years before this idea was technically possible, Tesla designed and built a car that features features focused on complete autonomous driving. The phone as key, the built-in camera and the central screen design are all design touches with a focus on autonomy.
The interesting thing is that it is very rare for automakers to launch a car designed to be prepared for the future. Generally, if a new capacity arrives, automakers use this as a method to sell the new year model, so that the former owners upgrade their cars.
Tesla, however, is not doing it. They can do this because they are still a small company, and the market is not saturated with their products (well, except some parts of California and Norway).
Although most automakers do not want to do this because they think it would reduce the future demand of customers who want an upgrade to the latest mode, this mindset will actually make Tesla More when fully autonomous driving becomes available. Since Tesla will have more than one million cars on the road so far, capable of being driven autonomously, all they need to do is turn on the switch and immediately start dominating the taxi and race markets. They will not need to build another million cars, they will not have to convince customers, they just need to submit a software update.
Of course, this all depends on fully autonomous driving being possible with the Tesla system, and this depends on Tesla beating the other car manufacturers. Tesla has so far gone its own way with its vision-focused autonomy system (instead of LIDAR), so there is no guarantee that they will win the race. But if you do, you can add these Uber and Lyft market limits to Tesla on the same day.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.