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Tesla to Release ‘Full Autonomy’ in 2021, We might Actually See Robotaxi Service Next Year, Says Elon Musk

Tesla’s newest Full Self-Driving (FSD) suite was released a few months ago. Following this release, the talk about autonomous driving and self-driven vehicles has gained a lot of traction. Earlier this year, in April, Musk had mentioned that Tesla would be launching an autonomous taxi service by December, and it was pending regulatory approval at the time. We do know that this plan did not quite work out. But that does not mean that Musk was joking.

Elon Musk Confident of Releasing ‘Full Autonomy’ Next Year in ‘Some Jurisdictions’

Selected customers got the chance to be a part of the beta testing for the Full Self-Driving suite in October. Since then, Tesla has been slowly increasing the number of customers who can avail of this feature. The idea is to slowly increase operations, while also collecting as much data from the existing users as possible. This will allow them to keep improving the program and make it as flawless as possible. And if everything goes according to plan, we might actually see an autonomous taxi service from the Californian automaker next year. At least that’s what Musk said yesterday.

Elon Musk Receives Axel Springer Award

Elon Musk received the Axel Springer award yesterday. Outstanding people who are innovative, who change markets, influence culture and uphold their responsibility towards society are the criteria for receiving this award. After having received this award, Musk had an interview with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner. When asked when can Tesla deliver full autonomy, he promptly mentioned 2021. According to the Tesla CEO, Tesla can have full autonomy up and running next year. They can even start selling it to a customer base, although that will depend on state-wise regulations. But Musk is confident that some regions will allow this. While he did not indulge in the specific regions he expects to get approval, he did mention that European regulations are more conservative.

Our Opinion

Some jurisdictions already have the framework for autonomous driving in their regulations. GM’s “Cruise” got the approval for driving truly driverless Chevrolet Bolt EVs in California, while Waymo started an autonomous taxi service in Arizona. If Tesla gets their autonomous system ready by next year, it won’t be long before we see a RoboTaxi fleet from them running in these regions. And once these autonomous cabs become standardized, Tesla will start expanding. Of course, a lot is riding on the regulations giving approval. But if Tesla can show autonomous vehicles running on roads safely, it will be easier for them to make their case in other states as well.

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Musk did mention that their data suggests that self-driving is a lot safer than human driving. But this data does not talk about the engagement and disengagement of the self-driving suite. This data is more important if Tesla is hoping to get approval. With the approval process set to begin soon (next year according to Elon), we are sure to get more of this data.

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Mihir Tasgaonkar
A mechanical engineer who loves reading and writing about new technologies in the automobile industry.

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