Elon Musk has announced plans for a new and ambitious service called Telsa Networks, using self-driving cars. He expects to launch the first ‘robotaxis’ as part of his long term plans for establishing an autonomous ridesharing network.
The infamously ambitious CEO explained during the company’s ‘Autonomy Day’, that he expects this to be up and running by 2020.
“I feel very confident predicting that there will be autonomous robotaxis from Tesla next year, […] not in all jurisdictions because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere”.
Musk also mentioned that the service will be available only in select areas, as not all regions have regulations ready for self-driving cars. However, without giving too many details, Tesla’s CEO hinted that the program will get approval “somewhere” by next year.
Tesla’s Headstart In The ‘Robotaxis’ Race
The company’s goal to have full self-driving is achievable, and it’s easy to see why. Tesla possesses the fleet needed to consolidate real-world edge cases, which are critical to training the system for autonomous driving. In other words, Tesla has a great advantage over their competitors, through expertise on computer vision and deep machine learning. Companies like Uber still depend on high definition maps and LIDAR simulation and heuristic programming as a necessary alternative.
Additionally, the company will enable owners to add their own personal vehicles to its own ridesharing app similar to Uber and Airbnb. Just like those companies, Telsa will take a commission on each ride, which is expected to be between 25 and 30 percent.
However, in areas where ridership will be lower, for instance, less population, Tesla will provide a dedicated fleet of ‘robotaxis’.
Either way, Musk claims that the Tesla Network will help car owners make a healthy profit. He estimates that a single ‘robotaxi’ has the potential to make a gross profit of $0.65 per mile. Using this computation, the CEO notes that one of their ‘robotaxis’ could earn around $30,000 per year.
Meanwhile, the company aims to offer a model 3 for $35,000. When accounting for the long life of 1 million miles that Tesla promises, it’s not inconceivable that each vehicle has the potential to be a money-maker. With a pitch like that, not only will ‘robotaxis’ be self-driving, they sell themselves too.
Already Geared Up For Self-Driving Ridesharing
Newly produced Tesla vehicles currently include a custom fully self-driving computer chip, as mentioned at Monday’s event. Certainly, this chip will have the capability to provide full self-driving once it has adequate software. Musk promises by the middle of 2020, it to be a “feature complete”. By having full reliability, it will make watching the road redundant.
Musk stated “From our standpoint, if you fast forward a year, maybe a year and three months, but next year for sure, we’ll have over a million robotaxis on the road”. Adding, “the fleet wakes up with an over-the-air update; that’s all it takes.”
However, one outstanding issue for Tesla regarding this great plan is recharging these ‘robotaxis’. According to Musk’s prophesy, in future ‘robotaxis’ will return home and automatically park and recharge.
Clearly, the Telsa CEO sees a similar version of 2015’s ‘Snake Charger’ coinciding its ‘robotaxi’ network.