Tesla is planning an exclusive event to show off its self-driving car tech — but Americans still have major fears about autonomy (TSLA)
- Tesla will hold an investor day about its autonomous driving software and hardware, the company said Wednesday.
- The April 19 event will feature test-drives and insight from Tesla executives including CEO Elon Musk.
- Musk’s past comments about Tesla self-driving capabilities have come under fire from industry experts.
- According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, half of US adults think self-driving cars are dangerous and two-thirds say they wouldn’t purchase an autonomous car.
Tesla plans to hold an investor day focused on autonomous driving, the company announced Wednesday.
The April 19 event will feature test-drives and talks by CEO Elon Musk as well as executives in the company’s engineering, hardware, and artificial intelligence departments, Tesla said.
“Tesla is making significant progress in the development of its autonomous driving software and hardware, including our FSD computer, which is currently in production and which will enable full-self driving via future over-the-air software updates,” the company said in its announcement.
Full self-driving is a sensitive subject for Tesla. Musk’s comments around the visual-based system have been criticized by experts in the field as “almost unethical,” given how new the technology is.
“I think we will be feature-complete full self-driving this year, meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without an intervention — this year,” Musk said in a February interview with ARK Invest. “I would say that I am certain of that. That is not a question mark.”
That rubbed Auto Nation CEO Mike Jackson the wrong way. After Musk’s interview, Jackson told CNBC: “I think he is overpromising on autonomous vehicles in an almost unethical way.”
Others, like Sam Abuelsamid, a senior research analyst for Navigant, have called his repeated promises about autopilots future full-self-driving features reckless.
“Nothing has changed for Elon,” Abuelsamid told Business Insider in February. “He remains as reckless as he’s ever been with regard to the way he talks about Autopilot and its capabilities.”
“When somebody like Elon Musk tells his customers that, hey, this is full self-driving now, when it is absolutely not, I think that he is actually putting his customers at risk, because you have to take into account the reality of human behavior with these kinds of systems, and Tesla is not doing that,” Abuelsamid continued.
Additional details of Tesla’s investor day are forthcoming, the company said. When it comes to drumming up excitement for self-driving, the company has work cut out for it. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published Monday, more than half of American adults think automated vehicles are more dangerous than traditional cars driven by humans.
The poll also found that about 63 percent of those who responded said they would not pay more to have a self-driving feature on their vehicle, and 41 percent of the rest said they would not pay more than $2,000. Reuters’ findings follow similar results from a Pew Research Center in 2018.
“People are comfortable with things they know,” Chris Thomas, co-founder of Fontinalis Partners and Detroit Mobility Lab, told the wire service. “When everybody understands the game-changing attributes of automated vehicles, how they can give you back all that time to read or work or sleep, they will start to ask about the value of that recaptured time.”