Tesla is about to hold an “Autonomy Investor Day” today at its headquarters in Palo Alto, California. The event was slated to start at 2PM ET (but is running a little late), and you can watch it above or at this link. The event comes two days before Tesla is due to report its financial performance for the first quarter of 2019, during which it is expected that the company will post a loss for the first time since the second quarter of 2018.
The company has been pretty tight-lipped about what exactly it plans to show off at the event, though it’s likely Tesla will offer some kind of update on its efforts to bring a “full self-driving” version of Autopilot into the world — a controversial and often confusing term that the company often employs. Broadly, the event will feature a “deep dive into [Tesla’s] self-driving technology and road map,” and investors will “be able to take test-drives to experience [Tesla’s] Autopilot software first-hand, including features and functionality that are under active development.”
The event is investor-focused, but Musk loves a show
CEO Elon Musk said in February that he was “certain we’ll release full self-driving this year” after Tesla removed the feature from its website last October amid concerns that it overstated the autonomous abilities of the company’s vehicles. He first announced the company was equipping its cars with the tech required to enable “full self-driving” back in 2016, though that promise has changed in the intervening years, and Musk now admits that new hardware will be required to pull off the feat — all while some experts argue Musk’s refusal to use lidar sensors means Tesla’s cars will never be able to drive themselves.
Musk recently said the event will “free investors from the tyranny of having to drive their own car.”
Tesla (and / or Musk) could also share more about the company’s desire to turn its cars into shareable vehicles. Musk has said the ultimate goal for Autopilot is to allow owners to rent out their cars to other people who need a ride, though it’s unclear if or when the company’s technology will ever get to this point. One thing we do know is that the man loves a show, so even though the event is investor-focused, there’s a good chance of some surprises.
Tesla has spent years improving the Autopilot driver assistance feature by adding new capabilities via over-the-air software updates. Most recently, the company rolled out a feature called Navigate on Autopilot that enables Tesla’s cars to automatically change lanes and take a driver from on-ramp to off-ramp on the highway. The company has also been teasing a feature that would let Tesla owners “summon” their cars in a parking lot, meaning the car would drive itself to them.
Last week, a Tesla critic and short-seller spotted the company filming what appeared to be a Model 3 drive that might be shown off during today’s demo. (Over the weekend, Tesla was granted a restraining order against that person, both for following the company’s Model 3 while it was driving in the Bay Area and for allegedly performing a hit-and-run at the company’s Fremont, California factory in February.)