Electric vehicle major Tesla is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of automotive technology. The company’s cofounder Elon Musk has now said that it is also aiming to launch ‘robotaxis’ as part of its broader vision for achieving autonomous ride-sharing network in 2020.
Speaking at Tesla Autonomy Day, Musk also revealed that all new vehicles are now being produced with a custom full self-driving computer chip which meets the hardware requirements for a self-driving feature.
Musk also said that the self-driving taxi service would be operational once development of the required software is complete. Musk expects the service to be ready at a reliable level by mid-2020. He also explained that the autonomous robotaxi fleet will need regulatory approvals. But that didn’t stop him from making an ambitious claim of a million robotaxis by next year.
“Next year for sure, we’ll have over a million robotaxis on the road,” a Techcrunch report quoted Musk as saying.
While laying out his vision for the service, Musk added that Tesla is looking to allow its existing car customers to list their vehicles to the company’s own ride-sharing app which will have a business model similar to Uber. Tesla’s robotaxi ambition comes at a time when it is also looking to expand to India, with a launch possible next year. In March, Musk said in a Twitter thread that he would “love to be in India this year, in not, then definitely by next!”.
In November 2018, he had also hinted that his company has plans to establish a ‘partial presence’ in India, Africa, and South America by the end of next year with an aim to expand further in 2020.
The Many Roadblocks To Self-Driving Cars In India
In the Indian market, the introduction of driverless autonomous cars is a far-fetched dream. Moreover, the concept of autonomous vehicles has not received much support from the government.
Earlier in December, it was reported that union minister Nitin Gadkari is against introducing autonomous cars in the country. He explained that the government’s decision to stay away from such driverless vehicles arises from the need to protect the rate of employment. He added that switching to autonomous vehicles will cause a significant loss of jobs for people working in the automotive industry, primarily drivers.
Another major setback in the possibility of autonomous cars in India is the challenging conditions of roads and of course charging infrastructure. Apart from the budding technology in the country, Indian roads are more difficult to navigate than western countries, thanks to congestion and poor quality.
While the government is averse to the idea, research firm Ipsos has found that among 28 countries surveyed, the Indian market was most keen to have autonomous vehicles on road. Close to 50% of over 21K respondents from India expressed their interest to have autonomous vehicles.