Rimac Announces 'Verne' Robotaxi - Comparing it to Tesla's Upcoming Robotaxi [Photos + Video]

By Karan Singh
Rimac announces the Verne robotaxi, which looks similar to Tesla’s concepts
Rimac announces the Verne robotaxi, which looks similar to Tesla’s concepts
MotorTrend

Rimac, the company behind the Rimac Nevera electric hypercar, has announced that it intends to produce a robotaxi, and it looks quite similar to Tesla’s concepts. Much of what we’ve heard about Tesla’s upcoming robotaxi, the Cybercab, is featured in Rimac’s autonomous vehicle. From the two seats to the airy interior and the center-screen-focused interior, it’s all here, although there are significant differences as well. Rimac’s prototype, called Verne, was revealed on Wednesday, June 26th.

Verne Robotaxi

Verne will include a 43
Verne will include a 43
MotorTrend

The Verne is expected to begin operation in 2026 and is a two-seater robotaxi using Mobileye’s LiDAR technology. The vehicle is expected to be a level 4 autonomous vehicle, which means it would still require remote support for handling complex situations, similar to Waymo’s work in San Franciso.

The Verne has a 43” display, and 17 speakers, and is supposedly designed to emulate “a room on wheels”, with an inside-out design concept. Interestingly, rather than regular doors, the Verne has doors that swing forward horizontally, along with a keypad-based entry system.

A smaller screen between the front seats lets you control certain aspects of the vehicle
A smaller screen between the front seats lets you control certain aspects of the vehicle
MotorTrend

Rimac says they have signed agreements to launch in 11 cities in the EU, the UK, and the Middle East. They have also mentioned they are negotiating contracts with 30 more cities worldwide.

Rimac also showed off images of its robotaxi app and a concept building for its robotaxis – presumably a charging and service hub.

The verne will feature sliding doors, a lot like a minivan
The verne will feature sliding doors, a lot like a minivan
MotorTrend

Comparing Rimac’s Robotaxi to Tesla’s

Although Tesla has yet to reveal the Cybercab, there are several things Tesla has already talked about for their upcoming robotaxi. One key difference between Rimac’s vision and Tesla’s is that Tesla appears to be chasing the cheapest possible transport, with Tesla previously touting ride prices that would rival bus ticket prices. While Rimac appears to focus more on an ideal experience. While everyone loves extra luxury, at the end of the day, price usually wins.

The Rimac robotaxi app
The Rimac robotaxi app
MotorTrend

One example is Tesla’s single center screen, compared to Rimac’s two screens. In addition to the viewable 43” center display, which presumably is not a touch-screen, Rimac has a separate screen and controls between both passenger seats. Tesla’s approach appears to focus on a single screen, with the user controlling much of the car’s control such as music and climate through Tesla’s robotaxi app.

Another example is Rimac’s idea of including an entry pad and screen on the outside of the vehicle for passenger to be able to unlock the vehicle. Tesla’s approach to unlocking a vehicle is expected to rely on temporary keys that are tied to user’s phones leveraging ultra wideband, a lot like how Tesla’s phone keys work today on newer vehicles.

Tesla’s approach to autonomy is also drastically different than Mobileye’s, which relies on radar, LiDAR and more cameras than Tesla’s Autopilot suite today.

Viability

This announcement from Rimac is a bit of an oddity. As a company, Rimac has produced less than 150 vehicles in their short lifespan – all hand-designed and hand-produced Rimac Nevara hypercars. Their ability to scale to produce more than a handful of these Verne robotaxis, while visually appealing, is questionable at best.

On the same front, Rimac recently received a $200M Euro grant from the EU as part of a package to develop an economic recovery plan for Croatia. Rimac has also received $80M Euros in funding from Hyundai and Kia – but that was to collaborate on a high-performance fuel cell electric vehicle, and a high-performance EV sports car.

The exterior of the Verne robotaxi
The exterior of the Verne robotaxi
MotorTrend

Beyond that, Rimac has never done any work with autonomy – the self-driving tech that is running the Verne is entirely based on the outsourced work from Mobileye. It seems that the Verne will serve as Mobileye’s real-life test on whether its technology can be integrated into a Robotaxi platform on its own.

Tesla previously used Mobileye’s technology for its own autonomy during its inception years (AP 1) but quickly moved on towards using its own vision-based camera tech instead.

The Rimac robotaxi app
The Rimac robotaxi app
MotorTrend
The interior of the Verne
The interior of the Verne
MotorTrend

Tesla Vehicles Spotted With LiDAR: What Do They Use It For?

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla recently hit the news for purchasing approximately $2M in LiDAR sensors from Luminar, one of Tesla’s long-term suppliers. You’ve probably seen photos of Tesla’s Semi and various Tesla models, including the Model 3 and Model Y sporting LIDAR equipment on the roof. These cars drive around with manufacturer plates scanning streets and highways.

However, many people confuse Tesla’s purpose in purchasing LiDAR equipment with using it for FSD versus testing. So, let’s look at what LiDAR is, and why Tesla uses it on its Fleet Validation Vehicles.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detecting and Ranging – essentially using lasers to measure distances. A laser pulse is sent out, and the time it takes to return is measured – providing extremely accurate distance measurements.

Some companies working on self-driving vehicles, including Waymo and BYD, use LiDAR as part of their self-driving suites, but Tesla is one of the few stand-outs that does not. Even Rimac’s “Verne” Robotaxi – which uses self-driving technology from Mobileye, also uses LiDAR.

While LiDAR can produce extremely accurate and high-quality 3D environments, it comes with its downsides as well. Not only is LiDAR costly and requires large gear strapped to a vehicle, but it also can not be used in bad weather and can have interference issues if there are other strong light sources present.

Why Does Tesla Use LiDAR?

A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
A LiDAR rig mounted on a Tesla Semi for testing FSD.
Not a Tesla App

At Autonomy Day in 2019, Elon Musk mentioned that LiDAR isn’t the solution for self-driving cars – it's just a crutch. Thus, Tesla hasn’t used LiDAR for any production self-driving software.

Instead, Tesla uses it exactly how it's described – they use it to gather ground-truth data. This data is then used to feed Tesla’s Full Self Driving system – which helps validate its vision-only system's accuracy. LiDAR provides very accurate measurements to help ensure that FSD’s perception of space is accurate – and is only used by Tesla to ensure that its AI technology which is the brains of FSD is capable of accurately interpreting depth from just visual data.

Tesla’s vision-only system has been seen to be extremely accurate, with Vision-only Autopark being able to park in even narrower and tighter spaces faster than the previous version that relied on ultrasonic sensors.

We’ll likely continue to see Tesla purchase LiDAR systems, as well as use them for validation well into the future.

Tesla's Upcoming Robotaxi Event in August Delayed, According to Bloomberg

By Karan Singh
Sugar Design

In a report from Bloomberg, it is claimed that Tesla will be delaying its much-anticipated 8/8 Robotaxi event by two months to October 2024.

While sources other than Bloomberg haven't confirmed this report, Bloomberg has a positive track record of reporting on financial decisions. We’ll be sure to update the article if there is confirmation on X from Elon Musk or another Tesla senior official.

Tesla’s stock has dropped nearly 8.5% over the day, ending back-to-back gains over the last two weeks. It closed yesterday at $ 241 after hitting a peak of $270 earlier in the day before the news broke.

Why the Delay?

The delay – of approximately two months – has been communicated internally, but not publicly announced just yet. Bloomberg goes on to mention that the design team was told to rework certain elements of the Cybercab, necessitating the delay.

If Bloomberg’s report is correct, it sounds like Tesla’s unveil event will be largely focused on showing off the vehicle, instead of demoing how it will work. Of course, it could still be both, but given past events, Tesla has always shown off the vehicle years before it hits production.

Rimac recently showed off their version of robotaxi vehicle named Verne, and surprisingly, it could almost pass for Tesla’s own robotaxi. A lot of design cues in Rimac’s version are elements we have already seen or expect to see in Tesla’s autonomous taxi.

A recent Tesla patent revealed that Tesla is incorporating a sanitation system into their robotaxi that will be responsible for analyzing and cleaning the vehicle’s interior, although the delay itself is likely tied more to a physical feature rather than software.

Another element we know almost nothing about is how Tesla plans to charge these robotic taxis. Will they rely on the existing charge port and adapt a solution like the robotic charging arm (video below) we saw almost eight years ago, or will wireless charging or a dock finally become realized?

While the delay for Tesla’s event appears to be related to the vehicle’s design itself and not further development of FSD, Tesla is wasting no time in getting FSD working for the upcoming vehicle. Model 3 vehicles have already been spotted with camera locations that resemble a robotaxi.

Is the Delay Accurate?

We expect that this delay might actually be true – Elon Musk usually takes to X within hours of such news breaking if it's false to refute it and hasn’t done so yet.

Tesla has delayed several of their events in the past, and a delay of a couple of months seems plausible. We should hear from Musk himself soon on whether this report is accurate.

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