Thursday, November 21

Tesla’s Hot “Robo-Taxi” Dreams are Years Off


DETROIT, Mich.–Autonomous Vehicles keep getting hyped, and there is no bigger barker than Tesla founder Elon Musk. And while the CEO proclaimed having a half-million “Robo-Taxis” on the road next year, we know that this is a another of Musk’s dreamy pronouncements.

Musk says that all Teslas have the hardware necessary to pull off his idea, which amounts to Tesla and every Tesla owner being in business to let every owner’s car out while not in use. In other words, after I park my Tesla, and flip a switch in an app, I make it known that it is available to be summoned by John Smith three miles away. The car would drive itself to Mr. Smith, and take him where he wants for a fee. Tesla and the car owners would divide the fare.

What Musk is really saying is that if the world were made of candy and beer, it would be possible.

There isn’t the infrastructure in most cities to support Musk’s vision, nor is their regulatory approval for “driverless” cars yet.

“We expect to deploy the first robo-taxis with no one in them next year,” Musk said. “I’m confident we’ll get regulatory approval somewhere.”

Tesla is under cash pressure, as well as pressure t sort out an array of service and manufacturing problems. ‘Robo-taxis” is this week’s diversion from headlines that hurt the company’s stock.

Brembo is Tesla’s principal brake supplier.

Most vehicles available for sale today offer driver assistance features; in all vehicles available for sale today, even those with the most advanced of these aids, the driver must always monitor and be prepared to control the vehicle,” said the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education, or PAVE.

David Friedman, Vice President of Advocacy for Consumer Reports, said, “Technology has the potential to shape future transportation to be safer, less expensive, and more accessible. Yet, safety must always come first. Today’s driver assistance technologies have helped deliver on safety, but the marketplace is full of bold claims about self-driving capabilities that overpromise and underdeliver. For instance, Tesla’s current driver-assist system, ‘Autopilot,’ is no substitute for a human driver. It can’t dependably navigate common road situations on its own, and fails to keep the driver engaged exactly when it is needed most.”

Tesla would need billions to fund such an ambitious project. The company, cash poor, has been cutting back on research and capital expenditures. Several Wall Street analysts say Musk will need to raise billions of new capital,

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David Kiley is Chief of Content for The BRAKE Report. Kiley is an award-winning business journalist and author, having covered the auto industry for USA Today, Businessweek, AOL/Huffington Post, as well as written articles for Automobile and Popular Mechanics.