Elon Musk’s journey into the future has already created the world’s most valuable car company at Tesla.
And his creative streak is far from over, as shown by a new means of transport without pedals or a steering wheel – the Tesla robotaxi.
Mr. Musk revealed some additional details about the robotaxi when Tesla released its first-quarter financial results, which topped the $3 billion mark in quarterly net profit for the first time.
What is the robotaxi?
Well, that hasn’t been seen yet, as Tesla hasn’t released any images – those interested will have to wait until next year to get a glimpse.
But Mr Musk confirmed the lack of pedals and steering wheel, making it look more like a train than a car.
Here’s what he said on Tesla’s earnings conference call: “We’re also working on a new vehicle that I alluded to when opening Giga Texas, which is a dedicated robotaxi.
“It’s going to be highly optimized for range – meaning it won’t have a steering wheel or pedals. There are a number of other innovations around it which I think are quite exciting, but it is fundamentally optimized to achieve the lowest cost mile or kilometer counting everything.
“I think [the robotaxi] really will be a massive engine of growth for Tesla,” he said.
Tesla has long talked about having the ability to turn its customers’ cars into driverless vehicles that could be used as robotaxis. Mr Musk has pledged to unveil the car within the next two years and begin mass production in 2024.
“With robotaxis and autonomy, I think we’ll end up giving consumers by far the lowest cost per mile they’ve ever experienced,” he said.
Has Mr. Musk ever mentioned the robotaxi?
Indeed, he said in 2019 that there would be a million potential Tesla robot axes on the road in 2020. The closest thing Tesla has to robotic driving is the comprehensive self-driving software system that costs 12 $000 to owners. It is not capable of allowing the car to drive on its own and requires the attention of a human driver.
Tesla also says it expects the “completely self-contained” beta testing software to be released to all US customers who have purchased the feature by the end of the year. Mr Musk said around 100,000 owners are currently testing the system on public roads.
“Of all the technological developments I’ve been involved in, I’ve never really seen more false auroras, where it looks like we’re going to break through, but we don’t, as I’ve seen in full auto -driving,” he said. “To solve the full self-driving, you actually have to solve the real-world artificial intelligence, which no one has solved.
“I think we will get there this year.”
What else does Tesla have in the pipeline?
The Cybertruck is arguably Tesla’s most exciting product in development.
The futuristic, angular, armored vehicle is set to enter production next year, ending a nearly three-year wait for early pre-production order holders.
When it launched in 2019, Mr Musk said it would sell for $39,900, although that was with a view to production starting in late 2021.
Tesla has raised prices in China, the United States and other countries, after Mr Musk said in March that the American electric car maker faced significant inflationary pressure in raw materials and logistics during the crisis in Ukraine.
Mr Musk tweeted in 2019 that the design was partly influenced by James Bond’s Lotus Esprit sports car which turned into a submarine in The Spy Who Loved Me.
“We’ll be in production with Cybertruck next year, we’ll be in production with the Roadster and with the Semi,” the billionaire told the company’s Cyber Rodeo this month in Austin, Texas. “This year is all about scaling up, and next year there will be a massive wave of new products.”
Tesla is also working on a humanoid robot called Optimus.
Updated: April 22, 2022, 4:30 a.m.