Tesla Full Self Driving: Time For Tea?

A pedestrian looks inside a closed Tesla Inc. store in Palm Desert California U.S. on Thursday

Investors appeared unmoved by the chip announcement but shares rose slightly in after-hour trading following the announcement of the robotaxis.

Yesterday, during its Autonomy Investor Day in Palo Alto, California, Tesla unveiled its first custom AI chip, which promises to propel the company toward its goal of full autonomy. They also say they're waiting for Musk to define self-driving and show just under what conditions and places the vehicles can travel without human intervention. Samsung will manufacture the chips in Austin, Texas, he said.

Tesla has claimed it will have a million self-driving taxis on the road in 2020. Musk continued: "Like, people should really think about their purchase ... it's basically insane to buy any other vehicle but a Tesla". Musk also claims that by 2022, Tesla will build a auto with no steering wheel once Washington (and the rest of the country) is comfortable with the idea of a Tesla operating fully autonomously.

But Tesla has taken a different approach to the hardware required for self-driving cars steering away from the conventional lidar sensors (laser radar) and instead of using a network of cameras, as well as forward-facing radar and ultrasonic sensors. Tesla's self-driving computer board, which comes with two of its chips for redundancy, still has less than half the processing power of Nvidia's equivalent computer.

On Monday, Musk said Tesla has a huge advantage over autonomous vehicle competitors because it gathers a massive amount of data in the real world.

Tesla has laid out an ambitious vision for the future of autonomous vehicles, with plans for a fully-autonomous Tesla model and a fleet of robo-taxis on the road by 2020.

The company's ambitious Autopilot system, which clocked in over a billion miles late a year ago, is still essentially a driver-assistance system, leading Tesla to update its web page recently to include a disclaimer stating, "The future use of these features without supervision is dependent on achieving reliability far in excess of human drivers as demonstrated by billions of miles of experience". However, he was quick to acknowledge that Tesla would be held liable for any accident that happens on the road caused by a vehicle that is controlled by its autonomous driving system.

Musk compared the Tesla Network to a combination between Uber and Airbnb. Though Waymo does offer rides to a limited number of test passengers in the Phoenix region, the cars always come with a human behind the wheel, ready to take control in case of an emergency or unforeseen situation. "They are great consumer vehicles with really good driver-assist technology".

On April 18 a judge extended by a week her deadline for the Securities and Exchange Commission and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk to settle their dispute over his use of Twitter to discuss company developments.

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