Musk made these comments at an event for investors at Tesla’s Palo Alto-headquarters, laying out a near-future vision in which self-driving Teslas vehicles compete with the likes of Waymo, GM, and Uber.
Here are some of the main takeaways from Tesla’s “autonomy day” event:
- Tesla unveiled a new microchip that Musk said was being included in every new Tesla produced today. He called “the best chip in the world… objectively.”
- It’s a high-performance, special-purpose chip built by Samsung in Texas, manufactured with autonomy and safety in mind.
- The company is about halfway through the design process for the next-generation chip, which Musk estimated would be about three times better than the current system.
- Musk estimated that by the middle of 2020, Tesla’s autonomous system will have improved to the point where drivers will not have to pay attention to the road.
- He said the company will roll out autonomous taxis next year in some parts of the US. The service will allow Tesla owners to add their cars to a Tesla network, which he said would be akin to Uber or Airbnb.
- “We will have more than one million robotaxis on the road,” Musk said. “A year from now, we’ll have over a million cars with full self-driving, software… everything.”
- These cars will be Level 5 autonomy with no geofence, which is a fancy way of saying they will be capable of driving themselves anywhere on the planet, under all possible conditions, with no limitations. There are no cars on the road today that are Level 5.
- Tesla robotaxis could generate owners up to $30,000 a year in profit, Musk predicted.
- Musk promised that Tesla would soon be making cars that could last for at least one million miles, while requiring minimal maintenance.
Musk has been criticized for overstating the autonomous capabilities of Tesla’s vehicles, while also beta testing semi-autonomous features on his customers — with occasional dire consequences. Teslas have been involved in a handful of crashes, some of them fatal, involving the use of the company’s Autopilot system. Musk is known for setting deadlines he cannot meet, and for making predictions that fail to come true. (Musk had previously forecast that his cars would be fully self-driving by 2018.) As a a result, his company’s stock is some of the most shorted in the world.