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Tesla’s robotaxi plan is still on for this year — pending regulatory approval, says Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says Tesla’s plan for 1 million robotaxi vehicles on the road by the end of the year is still on pending regulatory approval.

At Tesla’s “Autonomy Day” event last year, Musk announced Tesla’s plan to deploy 1 million “Robotaxi” vehicles for a self-driving ride-sharing network by the end of 2020.

It’s an extension of Tesla’s “Full Self-driving Capability” plan to improve its Autopilot system in all its vehicles produced since 2016 — leading to those vehicles being capable of self-driving.

Once that capability is available through an over-the-air software update, which Tesla aims to be by the end of 2020, Tesla anticipates that it will have over 1 million vehicles on the road with the hardware necessary to run the new software.

However, Tesla and Musk have been wrong about their Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability timeline before.

Today, Tesla’s CEO says that he still believes in Tesla’s ability to deliver on the functionality of the robotaxi fleet by the end of the year:

That’s impressive considering that we are already more than three months into the year with a lot more visibility in what Tesla can deliver by the end of 2020, but of course, Musk also warns that everything depends on regulatory approval before they can enabled anything inside Tesla’s vehicles.

By “functionality,” Musk is likely referencing what he previously called “Full Self-Driving feature-complete,” which is Tesla delivering all the features required for a self-driving system without enabling people to use any of the features without paying attention or being ready to take control at all time.

Tesla plans to use its deployed “feature complete” system to gather data and improve on it — leading to a system that could be used as a self-driving system if approved by regulators, which would be something that happens gradually in different markets.

Electrek’s Take

I am happy to see some confidence from Elon on that front, but I am still taking it with a grain of salt because he has been wrong on Tesla’s Autopilot and self-driving timeline before.

At this point, it looks likely to me that Tesla is going to have automated features covering the entire driving experience by the end of the year, but I doubt it would be something that they would feel confident submitting to regulators.

I think they will need another year of data gathering and improvements after that.

Therefore, I estimate that Tesla will not have a robotaxi fleet in operation until around the end of 2021.

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

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