Development on Tesla’s proposed robotaxi service continues, and it will work everywhere … even on another Earth.
That is according to Elon Musk, who told the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday that the system is not being designed with a launch city in mind, the way competitors have approached the concept.
“Tesla is developing a general solution for self-driving,” Musk said. “If you created sort of a randomly generated alternate Earth, our system would still work.”
Musk added that regulatory hurdles will limit where it can be deployed but is confident that the Full Self-Driving system that will enable it will live up to its name one day.
Autonomous ride-hailing competitors Cruise and Waymo have focused their efforts on single cities, where constant, hyper-accurate mapping of the environment is key to the functionality of their systems.
Tesla gathers data from the owners of its cars who run a beta version of the system, a process that has raised the ire of many critics. Over 40 million miles have been driven with the feature engaged, according to Musk, and he expects that to reach 100 million miles soon.
General Motors’ Super Cruise driver aid, which has limited partial-automation, also only works on stretches of roads that have been validated through scanning and inspection by the company itself. GM this week announced it is doubling the approved road network to 400,000 miles across North America and said owners have covered 35 million miles using Super Cruise since it launched in 2017.
When Tesla’s Full Self-Driving is fully operational, Musk said Tesla owners will have the choice of using it themselves or adding their cars to the robotaxi fleet to earn money when they don’t need them.
“I think it would end up being some kind of combination of like Airbnb and Uber.”
“Look at how many cars are parked. There are parking lots full of cars everywhere. Because cars need a driver, so most of the time they’re doing nothing,” Musk said.
Musk estimated that a typical vehicle added to the system would see its usage jump from 12 hours a week to 60 hours a week and become a revenue generator.
“The interesting thing is, the car still costs the same,” he said.