Tesla Will Not Have True Robotaxi Release This Year

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Spoiler alert: My Tesla Mannequin 3 with “Full Self Driving” (FSD) won’t be able to function and accumulate income as a robotaxi this yr. No Tesla will likely be ready to take action, until fairly narrowly geofenced as a way to launch one thing.

Moreover, there will likely be no new robotaxi car on the market and no Tesla robotaxi operations with that car. I do know — Elon Musk stated a robotaxi could be unveiled on August eighth (or 8/8, which has its own issues). When was the Tesla Roadster 2.0 unveiled? When was the Tesla Semi unveiled, and what number of are on the highway right now? A Tesla mannequin reveal occasion, traditionally, signifies that mannequin is a number of years away from retail gross sales.

No doubt, Tesla Full Self Driving (Supervised) version 12.3 is much better than versions that came before it. However it nonetheless has loads of obvious issues with edge circumstances. Whether that’s turning proper from a left flip lane in the course of an intersection, straddling a lane marking on the interstate and driving 50-50 in two lanes, getting into a parking zone through a transparent “don’t enter” exit, or driving nicely over the velocity restrict in a faculty zone, it isn’t onerous to seek out examples of why Tesla FSD 12.3 can’t be let free to function as a robotaxi.

I get it — after years of little to no progress, it appears like Tesla FSD has improved by leaps and bounds. That’s certainly nice and provoking. I additionally perceive the argument that Tesla will likely be processing exponentially extra knowledge within the months to come back and may be taught and enhance. Nonetheless, with it being really easy proper now to seek out methods FSD fails, I don’t see it magically changing into utterly secure driverless tech anytime quickly.

Moreover, as soon as it’s actually adequate to undergo regulators for testing or approval, that course of may takes months or years and is on the discretion of regulators. And there are a few issues to contemplate with that:

  1. If there’s simply accessible proof on-line of FSD making errors, regulators could have a robust case for not greenlighting its use for robotaxi companies. With so many individuals utilizing it and importing movies to social media, it should take a lot of labor and enchancment earlier than edge-case errors don’t pop up.
  2. If a real full self driving Tesla hurts or kills anybody, or will get into an accident, even when the fleet is 10× safer than a median driver, Tesla robotaxi operations might be considerably delayed and have larger challenges getting accepted once more. Take a look at what’s taking place with Cruise in the mean time, for instance.

All issues thought-about, I can’t see Tesla launching robotaxis or getting near launching robotaxis in 2024. If FSD is prepared, it’s prepared; if it’s not, it’s not, and assuming will probably be prepared in 4 months is simply … nicely, you already know the joke about why you need to assume nothing. Asserting {that a} robotaxi reveal occasion will happen in 4 months makes me much less assured slightly than extra assured that will probably be something greater than a car mannequin launch, as a result of Tesla doesn’t know the place FSD will likely be in 4 months (and Elon Musk has been fallacious about FSD progress and forecasts sufficient to not belief him on timelines anyway). Setting a date this early implies that this occasion isn’t concerning the software program, however slightly a few {hardware} product. Placing the entire items collectively, it appears fairly possible that the August eighth reveal occasion will simply be an occasion to unveil a robotaxi-specific car mannequin that Tesla plans to mass produce sometime.

As a last observe, one may hypothesize that the August eighth robotaxi reveal occasion is essentially a response to Q1 gross sales dropping, Tesla gross margins dropping, Tesla inventory declining, and Elon Musk attempting to pump up a Tesla inventory revival. One may additionally argue that AI and self driving are Tesla’s final hopes to retain its inventory value and market cap, that with out some stage of hope round these issues, Tesla inventory will crash again to a a lot decrease stage. Automakers sometimes have a lot, a lot decrease P/E ratios that Tesla has proper now. With out gross sales development, and even with out vital (+50% yr over yr) gross sales development, Tesla’s extraordinarily excessive P/E ratio should be linked to one thing else. So, it’s not exterior the realm of purpose to imagine that this huge robotaxi reveal is essentially in response to Tesla’s gross sales and inventory issues.

Or it could be that Tesla is just prepared now (in 4 months, that’s) to unveil a robotaxi car mannequin idea. It could be that Elon Musk and others at Tesla are actually so bullish concerning the FSD path they’re on that they wish to roll out a brand new mannequin they assume will likely be used for robotaxi operation at some point, and they’re lastly far sufficient together with that mannequin to plan an unveiling occasion.

Regardless of the case could also be, I feel anybody getting their hopes up about precise Tesla robotaxis hitting the streets in 2024 is being idealistic. I simply don’t see that taking place, and I feel it might be good for folks to not have unrealistic expectations about Tesla robotaxis but once more. However we will see what August eighth brings, and we will see how nicely FSD progresses and solves edge-case failure after edge-case failure after edge-case failure after edge-case failure. Possibly the neural nets can be taught higher and sooner than I and others assume, and perhaps I will likely be confirmed fallacious on Tesla robotaxis within the reverse means from how I used to be confirmed fallacious on them up to now — for being too pessimistic slightly than being too optimistic. No doubt, I’ll bear in mind this text if Tesla by some means releases true robotaxis in 2024, and even in 2025, which I additionally assume may be very unlikely.

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