Tesla, under pressure to show it can generate profits on its main business of making electric cars, on Monday trumpeted a custom-designed computer chip to let its vehicles drive themselves. Even with the new chip -- which comes with all new vehicles and can be installed in older ones -- Teslas still aren't yet fully capable of driving without human intervention. They now have "all hardware necessary," said Elon Musk, Tesla's chief executive officer. "All you have to do is improve the software." The software will be updated over the air to allow full self-driving by the end of the year, he said.
Tesla's "autonomy day" kicked off on Monday morning at the electric-vehicle maker's headquarters in Palo Alto, California, where executives including CEO Elon Musk were expected to give investors more details about the company's self-driving technology, known as Autopilot. "Tesla is making significant progress in the development of its autonomous driving software and hardware, including our FSD computer, which is currently in production and which will enable full-self driving via future over-the-air software updates," the company said when it announced the event. Attendees were given red, Tesla-branded badges with sequential numbers, assumably for test rides of the full self-driving functionality. Musk took the stage just before noon alongside Pete Bannon, the vice president of Autopilot engineering, as more than 40,000 people watched remotely via the company's live YouTube stream. Bannon explained how Tesla designed a new chip for its Autopilot software, noting that the company was able to leverage expertise from multiple teams across the business.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk plans to turn the electric car company's fleet of vehicles into a massive autonomous ride-hailing network. Musk laid out his vision for the self-driving Tesla network -- which he expects to be in operation as early as next year -- at a Monday investor event focused on autonomous driving. It's not the first time he's floated the idea; he tweeted about Tesla robotaxis earlier this month. But his timeline, and much of the other details about the service, should be taken with huge helpings of salt. Competitors that have been testing self-driving taxis for awhile couldn't pull off what Musk is suggesting in the same timeframe.
Elon Musk said he's'very confident' that Tesla will have autonomous robo-taxis on the road as soon as next year. The billionaire tech mogul showed off a Tesla ride-sharing app at the company's Autonomy Day with investors at its Palo Alto, California headquarters on Monday. Not long after Tesla's robo-taxis are operational, Musk also predicts the firm will eliminate the steering wheel and pedals from its vehicles by 2021. Elon Musk said he's'very confident' that Tesla will have autonomous robo-taxis on the road as soon as next year. Pictured is a mock up of Tesla's ride-sharing app, shown at Autonomy Day'I feel very confident predicting autonomous robo-taxis for Tesla next year,' Musk said on stage.
Once the update arrives, Tesla vehicles will be able to drive themselves in a city the way they can perform highway cruising now, the company said. That means interpreting stop signs and traffic lights, making sharp turns, and navigating stop-and-go urban traffic and other obstacles -- a far more difficult task than navigating long, relatively straight stretches of highways. Although Tesla's website has promised features as soon as this year including the ability to recognize and react to traffic lights and stop signs, and what it calls "Automatic driving on city streets," the suite would still require a human driver behind the wheel. As soon as next year, Tesla has said, the cars will be able to operate reliably on their own, even allowing the driver to fall asleep. This tiered approach is different from companies such as Waymo, whose sole aim is to launch autonomous vehicles that do not need a driver behind the wheel.