Tesla wants to present its long-promised robotaxi on August 8th. Company boss Elon Musk announced the presentation on his online platform X. There were initially no further details. According to previous information, the autonomous vehicle will be based on a new technical platform that will 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, the “autopilot” technology in Tesla’s electric cars is simply a driving assistance system that requires control and intervention by a human behind the wheel.

“Autopilot” cameras have already led to accidents

Unlike already active robotaxi providers such as Google’s sister company Waymo, Musk always maintained that he only wanted to use cameras and forego the more expensive laser radars that scan the surroundings of vehicles. This approach is controversial among experts. In the past, accidents have occurred after “autopilot” cameras were blinded by the sun – while drivers relied too heavily on the technology.

A trial surrounding the death of a Tesla driver in March 2018 is set to enter its heated phase in California. His car had crashed into a concrete bollard on a highway in Silicon Valley with the “autopilot” system activated. The US accident investigation agency NTSB attributed the accident to system limitations and driver inattention.

“Autopilot” may have followed an incorrect lane marking and steered the car directly onto the bollard at a speed of more than 100 kilometers per hour. The Tesla did not give a timely warning of an obstacle.

The data recordings showed that the driver did not have his hands on the wheel. He may have been playing a smartphone game. Tesla wants to point out in the trial that he was distracted.

“Full Self-Driving” im Test

In the US, Tesla drivers can currently test an advanced version of “Autopilot” called “Full Self-Driving.” So far, despite the name, the cars do not become autonomous cars. The people behind the wheel continue to bear responsibility and video recordings showed that they repeatedly had to intervene to prevent accidents caused by software errors. It is unclear whether Musk wants the robotaxis to continue driving only with cameras.

Tesla shares jumped nearly four percent in after-hours trading on Friday following the announcement. Tesla is currently under greater pressure after a decline in deliveries last quarter. The electric car pioneer is feeling the competition from cheaper models from Chinese manufacturers, especially in China. According to Musk’s earlier words, production of a cheaper Tesla car could begin at the end of 2025. In the past, after new Tesla models were presented, it took several years until they were available.