Tesla Inc. founder Elon Musk predicts that robotaxis, or autonomous driverless cars, will be available on U.S. streets next year.
Musk, who admitted he can be overly optimistic about some of his predictions, said at an Autonomy Investor Day on Monday that he was confident that Tesla would have over 1 million robotaxis on the road next year, CNBC reported.
“I feel very confident predicting autonomous robotaxis for Tesla next year,” the tech guru said.
He added that the vehicles would not be “in all jurisdictions, because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere, but I am confident we will have at least regulatory approval somewhere, literally next year.”
Musk went on to say that part of the reason he is so optimistic about robotaxis being on the streets so soon is because Tesla cars already on the streets are built with the hardware needed for self-driving cars, so improving the software is all the company would need to do to make the driverless cars happen.
The company currently offers Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features in its cars, which seem to indicate the company is on the cusp of making the driverless car a reality. According to the Tesla website, the features have many amazing abilities, including keeping a car within a lane, automatically changing lanes without driver input, self-parking when near a parking spot, and braking automatically.
In addition to robotaxis on the street, Musk also predicted that his company would be making cars without steering wheels or pedals in two years, Reuters reported.
Getting those vehicles on the streets won’t be easy, however. As Reuters noted, the technology involved with driverless vehicles faces many federal and local regulatory hurdles.
But the notion of working through bureaucratic red tape does not seem to bother Musk. He promoted the latest Tesla at the event, claiming his cars were the wave of the future.
“The fundamental message consumers should be taking away today is it’s financially insane to buy something other than a Tesla. It’s like buying a horse.”
Safety concerns are another issue. CNBC reported that at least three fatal accidents have occurred in the U.S. involving Tesla cars while the Autopilot feature was engaged.
In a statement on its website, Tesla said the Autopilot program does not prevent all accidents, but it makes them much less likely to happen. The company also said that the feature “unequivocally” makes the streets safer for everyone on them.