Tesla Reveals Robotaxi App and Names the Robotaxi the CyberCab

By Cláudio Afonso
Tesla showed off its robotaxi app
Tesla showed off its robotaxi app
Not a Tesla App

Tesla has invested billions of dollars over the years toward vehicle autonomy. The mission continues as Elon Musk and Tesla now prepare to unveil their ride-hailing product, Robotaxi this August. Or, as Musk called it on Tuesday, Tesla CyberCab.

Early Days

Five years ago, during Tesla’s Autonomy Investor Day in April 2019, Elon Musk said he felt “very confident predicting autonomous robotaxis for Tesla in the following year [2020]”. At the time, Musk added a bolder claim, predicting that Tesla wouldn’t even make cars with steering wheels or pedals by 2022. While timeliness may not be Musk’s strong suit, he has a track record for getting things done that others were unwilling to try or thought were impossible. Musk later admitted he can be overly optimistic and said “sometimes I am not on time, but I get it done.” 

Now, 5 years later, we have the robotaxi unveiling scheduled for August 8th. After the release of FSD v12, it’s clear that we’re much closer to autonomy than we were in 2019, although FSD v12 is still a far cry from full autonomy.

While Tesla still has the robotaxi unveiling scheduled for August, Tesla announced yesterday that it’d be prioritizing a simpler “next-gen” model that could be released by early 2025.

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On the conference call, Musk added that Tesla now has over 300 million miles driven with FSD v12 since it was launched just last month. He added that it's becoming “very clear that the vision-based approach with end-to-end neural networks is the right solution for scalable autonomy”.

Tesla said it has been investing in the hardware and software ecosystems necessary to achieve vehicle autonomy and a ride-hailing service. The company is confident that it can establish a scalable and profitable autonomous driving business by employing a vision-only architecture.

think of it [Tesla] as combination of Airbnb and Uber meaning that there will be some number of cars that Tesla owns itself and operates

Tesla = Uber + AirBnb

Later on, Elon Musk unveiled that the new service will operate and result in a mix between Uber and Airbnb where the Tesla driver decides if and when he wants his Tesla to be used and by whom. Tesla stated:

“We believe the Tesla software experience is best-in-class across all our products, and plan to seamlessly layer ride-hailing into the Tesla App.”

Tesla’s CEO clarified that the owners will be able to add or remove their car from the fleet “whenever they want” adding that it will be up to them to decide if they want to only let the car be used “by friends and family or only by five-star users or by anyone at any time”. The flexible program will, just like Airbnb, allow the owners to take the car out of the market when they want.

The upcoming ride-hailing service will enable users to easily request a Tesla vehicle, control the car's temperature, monitor its real-time location, and adjust the audio system. The only question is when.

Tesla Begins Testing FSD in China

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla was recently granted permission to test FSD on Chinese streets – specifically in Shanghai. Just recently, Elon Musk visited China and discussed the potential for FSD to come to China.

Gearing Up for FSD China

This is just the first step for Tesla to begin its customer deployments of FSD – Tesla conducts similar ADAS testing in North America, where special testing vehicles and testing employees run the latest FSD (Supervised) versions against a gamut of real-world, real-life tests.

Tesla has recently been working on translating FSD release notes into multiple languages, alongside building a data center in Shanghai and establishing an FSD Operations and Labelling team at the same center. These are the first, key steps to bringing FSD to a new market that has unique and different traffic rules when compared North America.

China doesn’t have the regulatory hurdles or challenges that Tesla faces in Europe to bring FSD and has been working with Chinese corporations as well as the government, which has now provided its official approval for FSD testing in-country.

We might even see FSD deployed to early testing customers in China by the end of 2025.

ADAS Competitors

There are quite a few competitors in the Chinese market already- with challengers like Xpeng and Xiaomi working on building their own homegrown systems, mostly driven by a mixture of cameras, radars, ultrasonic sensors, and LIDAR. However, many of these systems face similar challenges to other non-Chinese competitors and don’t have the mileage under their belts to tackle Tesla’s dominating lead in data and data processing.

European Union

Tesla is poising itself for an FSD rollout internationally, with increased testing also taking place in the UK, France, and Spain – some of the key locations with unique infrastructure in the European Union. However, some EU-specific regulations restrict how FSD can perform – each and every action must be manually approved by the driver. Until that regulation is changed to adapt to systems like FSD, it won’t be making its way there just yet.

Tesla Cybertruck to Receive Charging Improvements in Upcoming Update

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Former Tesla VP of Powertrain and Energy Drew Baglino previously mentioned that Cybertruck would be receiving charging improvements soon.

Wes Morrill, Tesla’s Cybertruck lead engineer, recently reposted Baglino’s comments on the charge speed update on June 16th and mentioned that it would be coming soon via OTA.

Charging Improvements

The 4680 cell has seen some difficulties in its charge curve, similar to Tesla’s other vehicles that have been deployed with the 4680. Tesla has alluded to difficulties in the manufacturing curve previously, and also with engineering improvements to the new cell standard, and eventually stopped manufacturing the Model Y with the 4680 cells.

However, this is the first time that Tesla has begun to deploy major improvements to the 4680 cell. It appears the improvements will allow up to 154 miles to be recovered in 15 minutes, which is approximately a 30% improvement to current charge rates.

We’re hoping that these improvements to the 4680 will also translate to older Model Y vehicles that have 4680 cells, which will be key to the owners of these vehicles. 4680 production is currently mainly focused on Powerwall, Megapack, and Cybertruck – with Semi not using 4680 yet.

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