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Tesla unveils ‘Robotaxi’ plan for self-driving ride-sharing network next year

As part of Tesla’s presentations about their progress toward full self-driving, the automaker unveiled its ‘Robotaxi’ plan for a self-driving ride-sharing network with its electric cars to be activated as soon as next year with an over-the-air software update.

Today, Tesla is holding an ‘Autonomy Day’ for investors during which it has made several presentations about its effort to bring to market a full self-driving system.

We posted an article on Pete Bannon’s presentation about Tesla’s new Full Self-Driving computer. which CEO Elon Musk claims is ‘objectively the best chip in the world’.

You can visit our Tesla Autonomy Event news hub for all coverage of the series of presentations and announcements made by the automaker at the event today.

Musk’s own presentation focused on Tesla’s timeline to bring a full self-driving to market and the ‘Tesla Network’, the company’s plan for a shared fleet of Robotaxi vehicles.

The CEO believes that Tesla will have developed the software for all the features required to achieve a full self-driving system by the end of the year.

He emphasized that this version system will still require driver attention, which doesn’t really make it self-driving, but he expects that it will stop requiring driver attention by Q2 2020.

From there, Tesla will be working with regulators to have the system approved as a self-driving system that doesn’t require driver supervision.

The timeline for that will depend on the regulators in different jurisdictions, but Musk said that he is confident it will happen in at least one market by the end of next year.

Once that happens, Tesla plans to enable its Robotaxi network with an update to its existing mobile app.

On the app, Tesla owners will be able to add their cars to the shared fleet to earn money or summon an autonomous Tesla vehicle to pick them up and bring them to a destination:

Musk dove deep into the economics of such a fleet — both from Tesla’s perspective and from the perspective of a Tesla owner.

As we previously reported, now all new Tesla vehicles are equipped with what Musk believes is all the hardware necessary to achieve full self-driving through future software updates.

He estimates that Tesla will have over a million of those vehicles on the road by the end of next year — around the time they start activating full self-driving capability:

When the cars are fully autonomous, he estimates that they have a value of ~$200,000 when part of the self-driving network.

Considering Tesla is selling those cars starting at less than $50,000, Musk claimed that consumers should think hard about self-driving when buying any other car than a Tesla since they are the only company offering a vehicle, which they claim will eventually be full self-driving.

He said:

“It is financially insane to buy anything else than a Tesla.”

Musk argues that a Model 3 used as a robotaxi could generate about $30,000 in gross profit per year:

Musk expects the economics to improve over time as Tesla deploys more efficient vehicles and reduces the cost of operation per mile.

Electrek’s Take

That’s the holy grail of mobility: a shared-fleet of all-electric self-driving vehicles.

But that’s the easy part of the equation.

Delivering a fully self-driving system capable to drive safer than a human in any condition is obviously the most difficult part and Tesla did a pretty convincing job in trying to explain how they will deliver such a system over the next year in the other presentations throughout the day.

I am still on the “I’ll believe it when I see it” side, but I have to say that I feel a lot better about having bought the Full Self-Driving package on my Tesla after watching today’s presentations.

What about you? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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