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## Tesla CEO Elon Musk Announces Plans for Robotaxi Unveiling

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A hood ornament on a Tesla vehicle at a Supercharger station in Richmond, California.


Elon Musk has long had an affinity for self-driving vehicles, claiming they will be one of Tesla’s most important products. Despite big promises, years have gone by without cars that can, so far, drive on their own.

But Musk, on a Friday afternoon, when companies tend to bury news, announced on X that Tesla would unveil its robotaxi on August 8. This announcement has left many speculating about the future of autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing services.

His post was simple and included no details. “Tesla Robotaxi unveil on 8/8,” the Tesla CEO (and owner of X) posted. With the lack of specifics, industry experts and consumers are eagerly awaiting the official unveiling to learn more about Tesla’s advancements in self-driving technology.

Musk has said in the past that Tesla will make a car without controls for a human to use. He has also said in the past that Tesla cars equipped with Full Self-Driving Capability will, through software updates, gradually become better and better at driving. The potential for fully autonomous taxis has sparked interest in the market.

So far, the company has passed several of Musk’s predictions for when actual self-driving would be possible. The advancements in self-driving technology have raised hopes for a future where autonomous vehicles are a common sight on the roads.

Tesla five years ago, in April 2019, said it expected to begin operating robotaxis by 2020. The company predicted the autonomous cars would last 11 years and drive 1 million miles, making the company and the car’s operators $30,000 in profit each year. The potential profitability of robotaxis has generated excitement in the business world.

But Musk also acknowledged that his track record for predictions can be off – sometimes by a mile. The uncertainty surrounding self-driving technology highlights the challenges faced by companies in this evolving industry.

“The only criticism and it’s a fair one, sometimes I’m not on time. But I get it done and the Tesla team gets it done,” Musk said at the April 2019 event. The importance of meeting deadlines in the tech industry is crucial for gaining consumer trust.

Currently, Full Self-Driving capability can be purchased with a new Tesla Model 3, for instance, for an additional $12,000 added to the car’s roughly $40,000 purchase price. It can be also be purchased on a subscription basis for up to $199 a month, depending on how the car was originally equipped. The flexibility in purchasing self-driving features can cater to different consumer preferences.

In small gray type, Tesla’s on-line description points out, “The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous,” meaning that it is not, in fact, capable of fully self-driving today. Clarifying the limitations of current self-driving technology is essential for managing consumer expectations.

Musk has said the system will one day make Tesla cars incredibly valuable. The potential increase in value of autonomous-capable cars highlights the investment potential in self-driving technology.

“You can think of every car we sell or produce that has full autonomy capability as something that in the future may be worth five times what it is today,” he said in the company’s earnings call for the third quarter last year. The long-term financial benefits of autonomous technology are a key driver of interest in the industry.

Experts who have tested the system say that, as of now, it is still far from being able to drive on its own without human intervention. The ongoing development of self-driving technology requires continuous testing and improvement to ensure safety and reliability.

Kelly Funkhouser, associate director of vehicle technology for Consumer Reports, recently tested the system and said she’s less worried about its safety than she is about ordinary Tesla Autopilot, which is designed to provide more limited driving assistance mainly on highways. The comparison between different levels of autonomous features sheds light on the challenges faced in developing reliable self-driving technology.

“You’re not likely to tune out and become complacent or over-reliant on it,” she said. “In fact, I would say you’re potentially more alert.” The impact of self-driving technology on driver behavior and attentiveness is a crucial factor in ensuring road safety.

A number of companies, including Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, as well as GM subsidiary Cruise, are working on autonomous ride-sharing services. The competition in the autonomous vehicle market highlights the potential for innovation and growth in this sector.

Cruise has paused its testing work after one of its self-driving cars hit and dragged a pedestrian. An internal review found that company representatives had failed to be fully open with regulators about the incident. The challenges and controversies faced by companies in the autonomous vehicle industry underscore the importance of transparency and safety regulations.

Waymo recently had to recall its own cars after two of its cars hit the same tow truck within minutes of one another. The incidents highlight the ongoing need for testing and improvement in self-driving technology to ensure public safety.

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