Musk Says Robotaxi is on Track but Faces Regulatory Hurdles

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In a Twitter response to a user’s question about robotaxis, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said, “Functionality still looking good for this year. Regulatory approval is the big unknown.”

Musk was referring to his announcement last year at Tesla Autonomy Investor Day. “I feel very confident predicting autonomous robotaxis for Tesla next year,” Musk said on stage at the event. “They won’t be in all jurisdictions, because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere, but I am confident we will have at least regulatory approval somewhere, literally next year.”

Robotaxis are autonomous cars operated for an e-hailing (on-demand mobility) service. While many automakers announced plans over the past few years to develop robotaxis, none have hinted at hitting the market before 2025. 

According to Electrek, a news and commentary site that tracks and analyzes the electric vehicle movement, Tesla’s robotaxi is an extension of its “Full Self-driving” (FSD) capability plan intended to advance the autopilot system already in vehicles, making them capable of self-driving.

As Musk mentioned last year, regulatory approval for a self-driving system will not be received by a broad brush stroke. Garnering the approval of regulators is expected to vary by market and depends on the data Tesla gathers from its current “feature complete” system. Tesla is aiming to have over 1 million vehicles with the hardware to run necessary over-the-air software updates available by the end of 2020.

In a report by Tesmanian in March, Tesla’s robotaxi model is being used to transport healthcare providers to and from hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, but FSD still has more work to do before Tesla can release a full fleet of robotaxi’s.

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