Elon Musk announced that he plans to introduce the long-promised Tesla robot taxi on August 8. The future autonomous vehicle will reportedly be built on Tesla’s next-generation vehicle platform.

On the same day, Reuters reported that the company had scrapped plans to build a more affordable electric vehicle that would cost around $25,000. Musk reportedly told employees that instead of building a mass-market electric car, he wanted to focus on a fully autonomous vehicle that would make other vehicles obsolete.

Musk has long toyed with the idea of ​​a Tesla robot taxi, even showing off a fully covered vehicle at a 2023 event that unveiled the company’s third master plan. Years earlier, he speculated that Tesla owners could monetize their autonomous cars by sending them to pick up and drop off passengers.

This would be the so-called “Tesla Network” as described in Musk’s Master Plan Deux. “Also, you can add your car to Tesla’s shared fleet with just a tap of a button on the Tesla phone app,” he wrote, “and have it generate income while you’re at work or on vacation, which will significantly offset, and sometimes potentially exceed, your monthly loan or lease cost.”

These plans became even more grand several years later. “By the middle of next year, we’ll have over a million Tesla cars on the road with fully self-driving hardware,” Musk said in 2019. Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature would be so reliable that the driver could go to sleep,” he added. (Teslas with the company’s FSD software are not autonomous, and drivers are not advised to sleep in their cars.)

Musk’s repeated claims that autonomous vehicles were only “a year” away are now part of Tesla lore. His supporters point to the success of Autopilot and then FSD as proof that, while his promises may not exactly match reality, he is still at the forefront of society’s transition from human-powered vehicles to AI-driven vehicles. He even makes humanoid work robots to prove that the technology is formally agnostic.

But critics say he overstates the technology’s capabilities, often with deadly consequences. Tesla vehicles using FSD and Autopilot have been involved in hundreds of accidents and dozens of deaths. The company has faced numerous wrongful death lawsuits. The US government is investigating the company’s self-driving claims, and a massive recall was announced late last year.

Source: Teh Verge