Elon Musk promised to create an unmanned taxi

Will he be able to rid the world of traffic jams and improve road safety?

Elon Musk announced plans to launch a Tesla-based robot taxi

During an investor report for Q1 2022, Tesla founder Elon Musk said his company is working on creating an unmanned taxi. The entrepreneur is confident the project will be in demand and commercially successful - Musk called the new type of public transport one of the corporation's future growth engines.

The Tesla official assured that preparations for the launch of the project are already underway, and the robot taxi will start operating in 2024. Thus, the American automaker will have to decide on a concept in two years, create a prototype, test unmanned vehicles, put them into production and resolve legal issues. How many years must pass before robotic Teslas appear on city streets is unknown.

Robot Taxi - Elon Musk's Dream

The discreet announcement of the new project came as no surprise to analysts. At the opening of the Giga Texas plant in early April, Musk said his company was working on "transportation of the future": "This is a special robot taxi that will look pretty futuristic." At the end of the month, the entrepreneur said that to launch the project, his company would need to develop a separate car that was focused on fully autonomous driving. Thus, the car will not have a steering wheel and pedals, but will receive additional seats for passengers.

Musk has repeatedly pointed out that Tesla's electric cars are not available to most drivers. The current cost of Model 3 is 47 thousand dollars, Model Y - 63 thousand dollars. Robotic taxis will allow more consumers to get to know the brand – the cars will cater to all passengers, not just those who can afford an expensive electric car.

For investors, Musk clarified that entering a new market would allow the company to make a lot of money. Tesla cars aren't fully autonomous right now, and even the optional $12,000 Full Self-Driving software package isn't a true autopilot. The entrepreneur is confident that autonomous taxis can bring in much more profit than the proprietary autopilot system.

Autonomous taxis are already launched in many regions, but there are problems

Dozens of large companies and IT startups around the world are developing and testing unmanned passenger transport vehicles. The US has Lyft, Waymo, Amazon, China has Baidu, Didi, and Russia has Yandex. In March 2022, Waymo launched test driverless electric cars on city roads and began testing cars transporting its employees. Chinese Baidu's Apollo Go robot taxi service has launched in some of the most populous cities in the world - Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

Some of the issues preventing the launch of a full-featured driverless taxi service have preoccupied players in the robot taxi market for more than a year. Firstly, to serve passengers, the car must meet the maximum - fifth - level of automated control. Second, driving on a test site and test track is different from working in real conditions, where a car's artificial intelligence must calculate a large number of probabilities and adapt to live traffic participants. Third, unmanned vehicles, which are currently being tested by participants in the robot taxi market, move with the help of electricity. If thousands of taxis are needed in a big city, then where can you get so many charging stations?

Another problem is related to the current situation in the world when, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis, supply chains are disrupted and electronics production is stopped. Obviously, to launch a large number of robotic taxis, it is necessary to mobilize chipmakers and other electronics, which will be stuffed with drones. There is no doubt that the production of autonomous machines at the initial stage will be on a small scale, while suppliers of semiconductors and other components in shortage conditions will give preference to orders from large IT giants that produce smartphones, computers and electrical appliances.

Self-driving taxis have huge potential, self-driving cars can change people's lives

Futurologists and financiers have no doubt that robot taxis will be able to change the world for the better. According to Ark Invest, an investment firm that successfully predicted the explosive growth of Musk's stock in 2018, the self-driving taxi business will be very profitable. Analyst Tasha Keaney said that by 2026, more than half of Tesla's value will come from the robot taxi segment.

According to the Ark Invest report for February 2020, the rapidly growing market can enrich drone manufacturers and operators and improve the lives of passengers. Elon Musk promised that a robot taxi would be cheaper than a bus or subway ticket. Analysts agree: they estimate that, in an uncompetitive market, a trip will cost half a dollar a mile. In a highly competitive environment, taxi companies charge 25 cents, or around 20 rubles per mile, which is very cheap compared to traditional modes of transport. The researchers found that, under these conditions, a regular taxi ride costs ten times as much, and owning a car costs twice as much.

The release of large numbers of electric cars on the roads and the availability of the service will encourage consumers to use less traditional and personal transport, which will positively affect the environment. That way, when a large number of drones appear, they can better build a route, avoiding traffic jams and congestion. It is also in the interest of taxi operators to automate trips as quickly as possible. Firstly, the probability of having an accident in an unmanned vehicle of the highest level of autonomy will be minimal - the autopilot does not exceed speed and is not distracted by the phone. Second, according to Arthur D. Little, driver salaries are one of the biggest operating costs of passenger transport services.
Tio Lu

Os meus olhos contemplaram fatos sobrenaturais e paranormais que fariam qualquer valentão se arrepiar. Eu não sou apenas um investigador, tampouco um curioso, sou uma testemunha viva de que o mundo sobrenatural é mais real do que se pensa.

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