Regulatory and Legal Constraints Make Short-Term Realization of Tesla Robotaxi Unfeasibl

By admin Apr 9, 2024

Elon Musk announced on social platform X that Tesla’s Robotaxi will debut on August 8th. However, launching a driverless taxi will inevitably encounter numerous difficulties, and Tesla’s shift toward the Robotaxi business will also bring future uncertainties to the company.

  1. Due to the complexity of the technology, the performance of autonomous driving still needs time for validation.

Analysts suggest that focusing more on the Robotaxi business due to the complexity of autonomous driving technology will bring more risks to Tesla.

Philip Koopman, an autonomous vehicle safety professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said, “Everyone else has found that projects they thought would take one or two years end up taking ten to twenty years, and Tesla has discovered that, too.”

John Krafcik, former CEO of Waymo, Google’s autonomous driving technology company, stated that Tesla promised eight years ago that all their vehicles would achieve full autonomous driving, although Tesla has changed its statements multiple times during this period, with many believing it will take several more years for Tesla to achieve fully autonomous driving.

Tesla’s autonomous driving relies on cameras and radars, without using lidar, which Koopman likened to “tying one’s hands behind their back.” He also added that anyone developing autonomous driving vehicles needs one to two years to prove they have excellent performance, something the industry has yet to achieve.

  1. Facing regulatory and legal constraints, Robotaxi deployment may be limited.

In December last year, Tesla recalled two million vehicles equipped with the Autopilot system under government pressure and conducted remote software updates on them, adding more alerts for drivers. This recall followed an accident involving autonomous driving technology, raising concerns about insufficient safety measures for distracted drivers.

Tesla also faced a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for claiming that its vehicles could drive autonomously. Although Tesla explicitly warned drivers that they must keep their hands on the wheel to maintain control and that the autopilot system does not make their cars fully autonomous.

Bryant Walker Smith, a professor of autonomous vehicle law at the University of South Carolina, stated that Tesla’s vehicles cannot currently support true driverless taxis. He suggested that Tesla’s driver assistance system is under extra scrutiny, perhaps due to Tesla and its CEO not fulfilling promises for many years and making highly questionable statements about Tesla’s autonomous driving capabilities.

Industry officials state that Tesla must comply with federal and local regulations regarding taxi fleets and autonomous vehicle testing. However, the liability issues for driverless cars have not yet been resolved.

Depending on the state, developing robot taxis may require deployment and testing permits, which could also be revoked. In October, the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended General Motors’ subsidiary Cruise’s permit after one of its robot taxis hit and dragged a pedestrian.

By admin

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