15 April 2019

Robo-taxis to compete with Uber by 2020, says Tesla CEO

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has shared more of his plans for the future of Tesla, claiming that the self-driving vehicles currently in development will act as robot taxis and compete with lift-sharing giants Uber and Lyft.

In a tweet replying to a question about Tesla’s built in cameras, the billionaire said “it’s there for when we start competing with Uber/Lyft & people allow their car to earn money for them as part of the Tesla shared autonomy fleet.’

Musk has previously said he expects one million Tesla ‘robo-taxis’ on the road by 2020 but has admitted he has form for missing deadlines.

Autonomous vehicles received support from Government in 2017 with chancellor Phillip Hammond announcing his goal to have “genuine driverless vehicles” on Britain’s roads by 2021.

But how real a threat are driverless cars to Britain’s taxi drivers? In the US a number of tech and automotive firms – including Google spin-off, Waymo – have launched driverless taxi services but fully autonomous vehicles are still far from becoming the norm.

Over here, in late 2018, minicab firm Addison Lee attracted attention with its announcement to launch self-driving taxis in the capital by 2021 but a dig behind the headlines showed that the firm’s focus was on self-driving buses, not taxis, and they probably won’t be truly autonomous – human involvement in the form of a safety driver will still be necessary. What’s more, it’s likely only a fraction of the capital’s square miles will be covered by the vehicles in three years’ time.

That said, while it may be slow progress on the driverless front, there’s no doubt automation will have a major impact on the taxi industry and on us as insurers so we’re following developments closely and will keep our customers informed along the way.

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