Tesla finally set to reveal robotaxi, claims Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has set a reveal date for the company’s long-awaited robotaxi: August 8, 2024.

The announcement, made on Mr Musk’s social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), came shortly after Mr Musk lashed out at claims from news agency Reuters that Tesla had cancelled its previously reported US$25,000 small EV to instead focus solely on the robotaxi.

One of Reuters’ sources said “Elon’s directive is to go all in on robotaxi” – a vehicle which would likely have more regulatory hurdles to clear.

While Mr Musk said in April 2022 the robotaxi would enter mass production in 2024, it’s unclear whether it will meet that deadline based on previous timing between Tesla’s flagship model reveals and the first examples being built.

The Tesla Cybertruck electric pickup was first revealed as a concept in 2019, and despite the brand’s intentions to start production as early as 2021, customer deliveries didn’t begin until November 2023.

Similarly, the Tesla Semi electric truck was unveiled in 2017 and deliveries were expected to begin in 2019, though the first mass-production examples didn’t join Pepsi’s fleet in December 2022.

Previous reports have claimed Tesla’s robotaxi will be based on the same platform as the reportedly cancelled entry-level car, which was tipped to launch in 2025 and start at US$25,000 (A$38,052).

Unlike the vehicle aimed at private buyers, the robotaxi reportedly won’t have a steering wheel.

The upcoming reveal of the robotaxi comes amid increasing scrutiny into Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving systems, marketed as Autopilot (which encompasses adaptive cruise control and lane manoeuvring functions) and Full Self-Driving, designed to detect and stop for traffic signs and lights.

In 2019, Mr Musk said there would be “over a million Tesla cars on the road with Full Self-Driving hardware” by the middle of 2020, capable of allowing the driver to go to sleep behind the wheel.

After first becoming available to select US ‘beta’ testers in September 2021, Full Self-Driving (also known as FSD) became publicly available to all Tesla vehicles in the US capable of running the system in November 2022 – without road safety regulator approval.

However, Teslas with FSD were soon recalled in February 2023 for safety concerns, with an over-the-air update rolled out to resolve the failure. 

FSD is still without regulatory approval in the US, despite its beta tag being removed in the back end of last year.

Along with the less comprehensive Autopilot system, Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving technology has been blamed for being the cause of 754 crashes in the US between July 2021 and mid-April 2023. 

The data – published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US – showed more than 80 per cent of all crashes involving vehicles with their semi-autonomous driving mode in use were Teslas.

Full Self-Driving is yet to receive approval to be used on Australian roads, though Tesla is reportedly testing the technology locally.

MORE: Everything Tesla

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