Tesla gears up for fully self-driving cars amid skepticism

Wednesday, 24 Apr, 2019

Tesla plans a ride-sharing app of robotaxis where any customer will be able to add or remove their vehicle to the so-called 'Tesla Network'.

Musk also unveiled on Monday a microchip for self-driving vehicles that the electric auto company hopes will give Tesla an edge over rivals and persuade investors its massive investment in autonomous driving will pay off.

Some of those companies are aiming to have their fully autonomous cars begin carrying passengers in small geographic areas as early as this year, but many experts don't believe they'll be in widespread use for a decade or more.

Today's presentation started with Bannon giving a tour of the AI hardware and who was followed by Andrej Karpathy, Tesla's director of AI, presenting a rundown on the tightly integrated software that runs the chip.

Musk also argued that the neural network technology, based on artificial intelligence, was better than the Lidar systems used by rivals that are based on light pulses. However, he was quick to acknowledge that Tesla would be held liable for any accident that happens on the road caused by a vehicle that is controlled by its autonomous driving system. For one, trashing LIDAR, until now an integral part in the visual arsenal of a self-driving auto, has not gone down well within the autonomous landscape, as virtually every frontrunner in the niche is using LIDAR to good success.

'You'll be able to add or subtract your auto to the fleet from your phone, ' Musk said. "But then again, Musk has created a auto by himself so a chip is certainly possible". He added yesterday: "probably two years from now, we will make a vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals".

Musk noted that any customer would be able to add or remove their vehicle from the Tesla taxi network - a model he compared to a combination of Uber and AirBnB.

"A year from now we will have over a million cars with full self driving computer, hardware, everything".

Musk also stated that Tesla is looking to introduce robotaxis. And all the cars in Waymo's ride-hailing service still have a human behind the steering wheel ready to take control. "It's like having a whole bunch of expensive appendices, one appendix is bad, well why have a whole bunch of them, that's ridiculous". Certainly the car's discipline and adherence to the rules shames some of the drivers also seen in the video, as it seamlessly passes from one road to the next.

February 28 - In response to a media question whether it is problematic that Musk uses the term "full self-driving", Musk replies: "I think we're very clear when you buy the auto what is meant by full self-driving". Tesla responded to criticism that it was behind in simulated miles for its computers by saying that real-world data collected by its cars-either with or without Autopilot-was far more valuable.

California, Tesla's biggest USA market, requires proof that fully autonomous cars can drive safely on public roads, but most other states aren't as stringent.