The Reality of Robotaxis

We have heard that Tesla plans to have robotaxis in the near future. In the mean time, we have GM’s Cruise and Google’s Waymo operating. Or, we did. Cruise is now pretty much dead.

The Electric Viking tells us what happened with Cruise. Cruise lost their license to operate in San Francisco after an accident involving a pedestrian but it turns out things were way worse than it appeared. It turns out that that a Cruise robotaxi was more like a remotely operated drone. The CEO of Cruise admitted this saying that a remote operator would intervene every few miles. He went on to say that making the vehicles more “self-driving” wasn’t worth it.

While the Cruise vehicles are electric, this problem really has nothing to do with electric vs. ICE. The idea was for a vehicle to be able to drive itself. It turned out that Cruise was no where near this goal. Unlike Tesla, Cruise used a static map to “instruct” the vehicle on how and where to drive. Unlike Tesla, virtually all self-driving systems were much like the approach Cruise used. I thought this made no sense.

While other vendors such as Mercedes continue to try to implement self-driving using static maps of specific areas and lots of restrictions (for example, Mercedes’ system has a speed limit and does not work at night) Tesla continues to improve its system based on all the data it has gathered from all its vehicles on the road.

Clearly Cruise is not going to be the robotaxi of the future. Personally I am betting on Tesla.

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