And according to Musk, “soon” means next year.
The iconoclastic billionaire added that updating Tesla’s self-driving software is the final piece of the puzzle. He also made some rather audacious claims that the specially designed chip that will control each car’s autonomous systems is better than any other processor in the world “by a huge margin.”
“It is fundamentally insane to buy anything other than a Tesla,” the CEO said, also calling LIDAR, the laser-based sensor used by other self-driving systems, “a fool’s errand.”
Musk was even more full of bravado than normal during the presentation, announcing Tesla’s plans to deploy self-driving “robo-taxis” to compete with Lyft and Uber in parts of the US by 2020.
“Next year for sure, we will have over 1 million robo-taxis on the road,” he said.
As if that weren’t an eye-popping enough declaration, he also said that a ride in a Tesla robo-taxi will cost about one-tenth per mile what current rideshare users pay.
While Musk is often derided for his bold predictions and aggressive timelines, he’s actually right on schedule when it comes to autonomous driving. Here’s another Musk quote:
“Five or six years from now I think we’ll be able to achieve true autonomous driving where you could literally get in the car, go to sleep and wake up at your destination.”
Of course, it may not all be up to Elon. Regulators still need to approve the technology for widespread use on public roads. That’s something Musk acknowledged both yesterday and back in 2014.
We’ll see if Tesla can push a million self-driving Teslas into the market by next year with the blessing of governments.
The company is banking on the real autonomous revolution to follow shortly thereafter, according to Musk, who said Monday that Tesla will begin to make vehicles that don’t even come with a steering wheel or brake pedals within three years.
Welcome to the future.