Tesla to Launch Fully Driverless “Robotaxis”

Category : Technology/Innovations

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. fleet / flit / (n) – a number of vehicles that are owned or controlled by one company

    The company has its own fleet of motorcycles that it uses to deliver its products.

  2. in-house / ˈɪnˈhaʊs / (adv) – conducted or done within an organization or company

    All of the company’s promotional materials are created in-house.

  3. furnish / ˈfɜr nɪʃ / (v) – to provide or supply something with equipment or furniture

    I furnished my office table with nice accessories.

  4. book / bʊk / (v) – to reserve something so that you can use its service (e.g. hotel, plane seat, ride-sharing cars)

    It is difficult to book a flight during the holidays because a lot of people travel during this period.

  5. stringent / ˈstrɪn dʒənt / (adj) – very strict, especially when it comes to rules

    The tech company follows a stringent process for the quality assurance of its products.


Read the text below.

US automotive and energy company Tesla plans to roll out a fleet of “robotaxis” in 2020.

“Robotaxis” will be Tesla’s first ever fully autonomous cars. This means that the cars can run without any humans controlling them. Unlike previous models, the “robotaxis” are equipped with a microchip called the “full self-driving computer,” which the tech giant developed in-house. Tesla CEO Elon Musk [EE-lohn muhsk] claimed that the microchip, which was designed for the sole purpose of fully self-driving cars, is the best of its kind in the world.

In addition to this powerful microchip, the “robotaxis” are also furnished with several cameras, sensors, and radars that help build the autonomous cars’ consciousness.

The release is part of Tesla’s plan to create a network of autonomous cars for its ride-sharing service. People who buy the “robotaxis” will be able to add their cars to the company’s fleet of self-driving cars, which customers can book through an app. Because of the cars’ full autonomy, owners of the “robotaxis” can also enjoy the luxury of sending out their cars without any drivers to pick up passengers and earn money.

However, before the full launch of the “robotaxis,” Tesla must first obtain approval from the federal government for its fully driverless cars to run on roads. The company must prove that the cars can run safely without getting involved in serious accidents.

Most US states are not stringent with approvals, except in California, which is Tesla’s largest market in the country. Despite this, Musk is confident that his company will be able to obtain approval sometime in 2020.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What are some possible disadvantages of completely driverless cars like the “robotaxis?” Discuss.
• Do you think other car manufacturers should also create vehicles that can run without any drivers? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• In your opinion, what policies should authorities impose on self-driving cars (e.g. insurance to passengers)? Discuss.
• Would you be willing to try other high-tech vehicles that may come in the future (e.g. flying cars, super-fast cars)? Why or why not?

Category : Technology/Innovations