On Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the company is likely to launch full self-driving technology this year and aims to make significant profits that offset some of the margin pressure it's facing because of significant price cuts, a Reuters report said.
"I hesitate to say this but I think we'll do it this year," said Musk, speaking on a conference call. The previous targets to achieve self-driving capability have been missed. Musk also said that the test version of Full Self-Driving (FSD) software will be “two steps forward, one step back between releases and that the trend is “very clearly towards full self-driving, towards full autonomy.”
However, this technology has drawn legal and regulatory scrutiny after crashes. Earlier this week, Tesla disclosed another fatal crash involving automated driver-assist systems to US regulators, totaling 17 since June 2021, when the government required carmakers to submit data on accidents, according to a Bloomberg report. The company has said the technology does not make the car autonomous and requires driver supervision.
Telsa seems to be making changes to the car’s hardware which temporarily disables some FSD features on newer vehicles, according to Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid, who spoke to Reuters. Tesla sells the software as an option for about $15,000.
Last year, Tesla removed ultrasonic sensors from Model 3 and Model Y cars and said some features such as "smart summon" and "autopark" would be temporarily unavailable, the Reuters report adds.
Whie Tesla is focusing on self-driving technology, not all electric companies see it as a possibility. At a recent auto show, Chinese battery and electric car company BYD said that fully autonomous driving is “basically impossible” and it is better to use the technology in manufacturing, according to a CNBC report. Li Yunfei, spokesperson of the largest domestic seller of electric cars in China, told CNBC that the company is thinking about self-driving tech from all aspects—human psychological safety needs, ethics, regulation, technology including application in this industry— but haven’t figured out the logic.
“We think it is probably a false proposition,” Yunfei stated in the CNBC report. “There may be many industries and businesses that invest a lot of money on this [tech], and after investing for many years it will prove it leads nowhere.”
Elsewhere, earlier this week, British superstmarket chain Asda trialled self-driving vehicles to make grocery deliveries in a part of west London. The year-long trial covers about 72,000 households, making it the largest of its kind in the UK, as reported by the BBC. Asda hopes that the trial can help in understanding how the technology can assist their busy store operations"
(With inputs from agencies)