Tesla will succeed with Full Self Driving and Teslabots. It may still be two or three more years until the full robotaxi level is reached. It could even be five years but the progress is and will speed up this year and beyond. Robotaxi could require the system being 10 to 100 times safer than the average human driver The economic impact of a very comfortable drive that is as safe or twice as safe as an average human driver will be very large.
The autopilot and FSD systems already improve the driving experience and improve safety while still requiring the human driver to pay attention and occasionally intervene. However, FSD and Autopilot are driven all over the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia. Autopilot has been used for over ten billion miles of driving and FSD beta has been used for over 320 million miles. Tesla FSD beta is now adding about 50 million miles every month.
The rate of miles driven and the compute power for AI training are both increasing exponentially.
Robotaxi could increase the value of car by 3 to 5 times based upon the hours it can be driven. However, many people will choose to continue to drive themselves even if it costs more. People buy luxury cars when they could buy and use an adequate basic economy car. Many people in New York still choose to drive cars despite a very good public transit system and taxis. This is in spite of high costs and difficulties parking.
Tesla’s AI team recently announced that the software can train with Youtube videos of driving. This means the system is independent of camera positions. This is critical for being able to license FSD and Autopilot to other car makers. The different cars can have cameras in other locations.
This is a big deal
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 19, 2023
Robotrucking will be more impactful than Robotaxi in many ways. If truck drivers are replaced for all 30 million large trucks and perhaps another 100 million small and medium sized commercial trucks in the world this will transform the supply chain.
The transport costs in the supply chain could eventually be reduced by 80% or more. Driving speed for delivering cargo could increase from 55 mph to 110 mph or more. Also, the robotruck could drive 23 hours a day and only stop for recharging.
Truck fleet owners will not hesitate to replace human drivers once the systems are good enough. 70% of drivers could be replaced once there is a driving system that could safely platoon trucks.
As stated before, Tesla’s AI team recently announced that the software can train with Youtube videos of driving. This means the system is independent of camera positions. $150,000 semi trucks can get cameras and self driving computers added for about $20,000 to $30000 or $5,000 per year plus the hardware. This means the existing fleet can be rapidly converted to remove the driver for a 4-12 month return on investment.
$5,000 per year made on all 30 million trucks would be $150 billion per year. This would be over ten times the current profits at Tesla.
$150 billion per year in profits would mean a 10X in value. This would not need as many batteries. It would only need 30 million robotruck conversion kits (hardware 4 or 5 chips, cameras etc…).
Teslabots are making rapid progress and are leveraging the training data and AI training systems of FSD. Tesla is building the factory to make the custom actuators and mass produce Teslabots. Teslabots have already been shown to walk, move objects and handle tools and wires.
If one to four Teslabots help every human factory worker, this could reduce the number of human factory workers. It can mean the ability to shift the human workers and spread 100,000 human factory workers over 8 factories instead of 4 factories. Production would rapidly increase.
The safety and regulatory issues with Teslabot in the factory would be less than for driving cars or trucks. This could mean the more rapid large scale deployment of Teslabots in Tesla factories than robotaxi or robotrucks.
The Tesla GigaMexico factory will use the unboxed process. This will make factory processes Teslabot friendly. Teslabots will not need to climb inside a partially complete car frame. They can work on all of the parts until they are finally assembled.
Tesla sells Model Ys for about $50000, but it currently costs them about $30000 to make them. A Teslabot is 1/30th of the mass of a Model Y. It would use 1/30th of the batteries. The software is an overall cost of development. If billions of bots are produced then the cost would trend toward the cost of the hardware plus Apple iPhone-like margins including the software (say 40% gross margin). At Model Y cost of $30k then the hardware cost for Teslabot will go to $1000. $2000 with margins and software. A bot can work for 8000 hours in a year. 8760 hours in a year. $2000 divided by 8000 hours is $0.25. If you add 10 cents per hour for electricity then it is $0.35 per hour. Going beyond that is bots can work in the factory and work cheaper than humans. Currently 15000 workers in Tesla China factory. Replace all of them with $0.35 per hour bots. Reduce labor cost component. If a lot of bots can increase production rates. by 2X then all costs spread over more units. Bot-produced solar and batteries can lower the cost of energy by vastly increasing the supply. Those trends could get us to $500-1000 per bot costs and lower energy costs.
RoboEverything Means RoboTaxi is Just the Beginning
Teslabots can be proven safe for residential and office situations. Teslabots and robotic machines can be involved in all aspects of the supply chain like mining and construction. This would enable bots to build factories, building and more bots.
Teslabots would have 100 to 1000 times the compute and power of a smartphone. They could hold more powerful LLM, sensors and communication systems. They will be able to listen and communicate via voice commands like Google Home.
Humanoid robots will be more common than smartphones and will lead to colonization of the Solar System and a Singularity.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.