Tesla’s most important products this year and next, according to CEO Elon Musk, will be software that allows cars to drive themselves and a humanoid robot that will assist in the manufacturing.
From technology to regulation, the most well-known billionaire in the electric car market has significant obstacles. For years, Tesla and other auto technology companies have fallen short of their self-driving software ambitions.
“I like that they’re pushing the edge, but I think they’re being too aggressive,” said Craig Irwin, a Roth Capital Partners analyst.
Musk has made a name for himself by overcoming doubters with successful firms in electric automobiles and rockets. 60,000 Tesla drivers are testing the latest self-driving software, a scale that other autonomous vehicle software companies can only dream of. Some Tesla drivers buy $12,000 self-driving packages in the hopes that full autonomy is only around the corner.
“I’d be surprised if we don’t reach full self-driving that is as safe as a person this year. I would be startled,” Musk remarked, anticipating full self-driving would become “the most important source of income for Tesla.”
“It’s nuts excellent from a financial aspect,” he said, adding that robotaxis would increase a vehicle’s utility by five times by allowing owners to send their cars to work when they aren’t needed.
Tesla relies solely on cameras and computer intelligence, eschewing rivals such as Waymo’s use of radar and lidar. That strategy has sparked controversy.
“Not only must you be able to see a person directly in front of you, but you must be able to do it with 99.999999999 percent accuracy. Even running someone over once isn’t an appropriate response “According to Reuters, Austin Russell, CEO of lidar manufacturer Luminar.
A key problem, according to Philip Koopman, a Carnegie Mellon University researcher who has been working on autonomous car safety, is that odd occurrences can spring up at scale.
“It’s really difficult to assure safety in a wholly autonomous car without a human driver to handle safety for novel circumstances that machine learning hasn’t been taught yet,” he said.
Even if the technology succeeds, Tesla’s deployment of fleets of free-roaming robotaxis would be scrutinised more closely by regulators. Following collisions involving Tesla vehicles and parked emergency vehicles, US auto safety regulators launched an investigation into the company’s advanced driver aid technology.
States have been given recommendations by federal vehicle safety regulators, but no complete regulations for self-driving cars have been issued.
During an earnings call a year ago, Musk stated that he was “very sure the car will be able to drive itself with dependability exceeding human this year.”
CJ Moore, Tesla’s autopilot engineer at the time, told a California regulator last year that Musk’s self-driving technology tweet “does not match engineering reality.”
Musk also revealed that engineers are working on a humanoid robot named Optimus that will be released next year and potentially handle global labour shortages in the long run while also being able to carry products around a plant in the short term.
“Using a humanoid robot to undertake risky and monotonous duties is exactly the wrong strategy,” said Raj Rajkumar, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
But, according to Musk, a robot may be more vital than a car. “I believe this has the potential to be more significant than the automobile company in the long run,” he remarked.