Auto manufacturers still have an intellectual mountain to climb in regards to self-driving cars.
Driverless cars are always a hot topic, especially when it comes to the so-called robotaxis. Elon Musk famously claimed that there would be one million self-driving taxis on the road before the end of 2020. We consider 2020 a write-off for obvious reasons, but we're now near the end of 2021, and there still isn't a single self-driving, free-roaming taxi to be found anywhere.
The Reuters Events Automotive Summit took place last weekend, and the various speakers delivered a few tasty tidbits. Lucid's CEO, Peter Rawlinson, weighed in on the topic of robotaxis specifically, stating that he thinks it will be ten years before we see fleets of driverless vehicles.
Rawlinson, a former chief engineer at Tesla, said that "they ain't coming anytime soon even with the most advanced sensing systems in the world. There is a mountain to climb. An intellectual mountain in terms of software."
Tesla's chief financial officer, Zach Kirkhorn, was also in attendance and was a little more circumspect, stating that it was difficult to place a specific time frame for autonomous technology. Tesla is currently beta testing new features of its Full Self-Driving system, and it's not going great.
Meanwhile, the Lucid Air is currently that manufacturer's only product offering, but it's a good one. It's equipped with several sensors, 14 cameras, and one Lidar system.
Even so, Rawlinson says that this technology could only be considered Level 2 or Level 2 + autonomy. Level 2 automation is still only partial. The car can perform specific tasks, but the driver should still be in control at all times.
Honda recently became the only manufacturer to get to Level 3, with Tesla still at Level 2. Last year, Elon Musk claimed Tesla was close to achieving Level 5 autonomy, even though it's nearly impossible.
The government is also weighing in on the matter, demanding information on all vehicles using a Level 2 system at the time of an accident.