Elon Musk says Tesla will reveal its robotaxi on August 8th

Tesla will reveal its long-promised robotaxi on August 8th, Elon Musk just posted on X. The forthcoming autonomous vehicle is said to be built on Tesla’s next-generation vehicle platform.

The announcement came on the same day that Reuters reported that the company had canceled its plans to build a more affordably priced electric vehicle, said to be in the range of $25,000. Musk reportedly told employees that instead of building a mass-market EV, he wanted to focus completely on an autonomous vehicle that would make other vehicles obsolete.

Musk has long teased the possibility of a Tesla robotaxi, even showing off a completely covered vehicle during a 2023 event unveiling the company’s third Master Plan. Years earlier, he speculated that Tesla owners would be able to earn revenue from their autonomous cars by sending them out to pick up and drop off passengers.

This would be the so-called “Tesla Network,” as described in Musk’s Master Plan Part Deux. “You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app,” he wrote, “and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost.”

Those plans became even grander several years later. “By the middle of next year, we’ll have over a million Tesla cars on the road with Full Self-Driving hardware,” Musk said in 2019. Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature would be so reliable the driver could “go to sleep,” he added. (Teslas with the company’s FSD software are not autonomous, and drivers would be well advised not to sleep in their cars.)

Musk’s repeated claims that autonomous vehicles were just “a year” or so away are now part of Tesla lore. His supporters point to the success of Autopilot and then FSD as evidence that while his promises may not exactly line up with reality, he is still at the forefront of a societal shift from human-powered vehicles to ones piloted by AI. He’s even making an army of humanoid worker bots to prove the point that the technology is formally agnostic.

But critics argue that he inflates the capabilities of the technology, often with deadly results. There have been hundreds of crashes involving Tesla vehicles using FSD and Autopilot and dozens of deaths. The company is facing numerous wrongful death lawsuits. The US government is investigating the company’s claims around self-driving, and a major recall was announced late last year. Even the robot seems flawed.

A robotaxi event in August is certainly in line with Tesla’s habit of showcasing at least two splashy events each year. Last year, it was the Master Plan and the Cybertruck delivery event. Now, we know of at least half of what’s on tap for the company in 2024.


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