Musk says Tesla will unveil 'robotaxi' on Aug 8

NEW YORK: Tesla plans to unveil its long-promised "robotaxi" self-driving car on Aug 8, Tesla boss Elon Musk announced on Friday.

Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur, did not provide any further details in his very brief post on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, which he owns.

According to earlier statements, the autonomous vehicle will be based on a new technical platform that is intended to make production more efficient and cost-effective.

Musk has been promising for years that Teslas will drive autonomously - and that this will radically change the value of the cars and the business model.

So far, Tesla's so-called "autopilot" technology in the company's electric cars is merely a driver assistance system that requires control and intervention by a human at the wheel.

Other companies have launched self-driving taxi vehicles already, including the Google subsidiary Waymo.

But Musk has insisted that Tesla's self-driving taxi would use only cameras, and not the more expensive laser radar arrays, in order to scan the vehicle's surroundings and guide the vehicle.

That approach by Tesla is controversial among experts. In the past, accidents have occurred after Tesla's autopilot cameras were dazzled by the sun and the drivers had relied too much on the technology.

In a related development, Musk has denied a Reuters report saying the carmaker had called off plans for a US$25,000 model.

Reuters said Tesla had cancelled the project, citing anonymous sources and company messages it had reviewed.

During Tesla’s most recent earnings call, Musk said Tesla was "very far along” with work on its lower-cost vehicle.

"I’m often optimistic regarding time,” he said. "But our current shows that will start production toward the end of 2025.”

Tesla also has talked up a radical change in its manufacturing approach to reduce costs, including at an investor day hosted in March of last year. During the Jan 24 earnings call, Musk referred to this as "far more advanced than any other automotive manufacturing system in the world by a significant margin.” — dpa/Bloomberg

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