Elon Musk promises robot Tesla taxis by end of 2020

If Elon Musk gets his way, there will be more than a million Tesla vehicles on the road with self-driving technology by the middle of next year — and a national robot taxi service just months after that.

Speaking at an investor event Monday, the billionaire CEO said the ride-hailing network would begin building its fleet in the coming months as it prepares to launch the autonomous service by the end of 2020.

He predicted a world where Tesla owners could wake up and push a button to send their cars out into the field for pickups — essentially earning money from the comfort of home while they’re asleep or doing chores.

“It is fundamentally insane to buy anything other than a Tesla,” Musk said.

He compared buying a regular, gas-powered vehicle in 2019 — instead of an autonomous one — to someone purchasing a horse instead of a car in the early 1900s.

Tesla is looking to convert thousands of electric cars into self-driving vehicles, with software updates allowing for robots to steer. Musk admitted Monday that there might be some “fender benders,” but Tesla would be liable. He had been hinting at the robot service on Twitter.

“It’s hard to wrap my head around a future where my car might be earning me money through autonomous driving while I’m asleep in my bed or play video games but here we are,” tweeted professional video gamer Marcel “Dexter” Feldkamp, to which Musk said: “That’s exactly the idea. What’s not well understood is that Tesla cars being made *today* will be able to do that for you. Just a matter of finishing the software & going through regulatory approval.”

By 2022, Musk hopes to have Americans whizzing around in Teslas that don’t even have steering wheels or brake pedals. Tech experts described the idea as a “pipe dream” — along with his on-demand robot taxi service.

“It’s all hype,” said Steven Shladover, a retired research engineer at the University of California-Berkeley who specializes in autonomous driving.

“The technology does not exist to do what he is claiming,” Shladover told the Associated Press. “He doesn’t have it, and neither does anybody else.”

Raj Rajkumar, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said: “I think it’s basically overpromising, which is typical of Elon Musk.”

With Post wires



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