23 Apr 19

Tesla says its robotaxi will be ready next year

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company will launch its first self-driving taxis on US roads next year, adding that Tesla will probably manufacture cars without a steering wheel or pedals by 2021.

 According to Mr Musk, a new microchip developed by Samsung Electronics and a change to its own self-driving computer make this possible. Previously, Tesla used an Nvidia computer.

Whether or not Tesla, a company notorious for not meeting self-imposed deadlines, will reach this milestone when they say they will, remains to be seen.

A fool’s errand

Mr Musk also took a swing at competitors that rely on lidar for their self-driving technology.

“Lidar is a fool’s errand,” he said. “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed.”

Instead, Tesla relies on a combination of cameras and radar.

US magazine Consumer Report cautioned against Tesla’s bold claims: “Claims about Tesla’s driving automation systems and safety are not backed up by the data and it seems today’s presentation had more to do with investors than consumers’ safety,” the publication wrote.

So what were those self-driving levels again?

  • Level 0: No automation
  • Level 1: Driver assistance (e.g. braking assistance)
  • Level 2: Partial automation (e.g. cruise control)
  • Level 3: Conditional automation (the vehicle monitors the environment but the driver has to be able to intervene instantaneously; many manufacturers have announced they want to skip this level as they deem it very dangerous)
  • Level 4: High automation (the vehicle drives itself but the driver has the option to control the vehicle)
  • Level 5: Full automation (the driver no longer has the option to control the vehicle)
Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck