By Claudia Assis
Tesla Inc’s “AI day” is back, with investors hoping this time the electric-vehicle maker will show something other than a spandex-clad human mimicking a future a humanoid robot.
In invitations to the event , scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Pacific on Friday, Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/lastsale TSLA -6.37% teased updates on its Full Self Driving system, meant to power some future safety and autonomy capabilities but it is still in beta mode, its Optimus robot, and its so-called Dojo supercomputer.
Tesla is likely to emphasize its promised “robotaxi” rollout “a little more,” perhaps giving some figures and a more specific timeline, Argus Research analyst Bill Selesky told MarketWatch.
“It’s a bit difficult to predict what Tesla will say on FSD technology, since they have changed their plans several times,” from promising one million robotaxis on the road by the end of 2022 to 1 million customers in their FSD beta program, “which are totally different,” he said.
Still, the robot program could be “the big event for the day,” since depending on what is presented the program could raise expectations of higher manufacturing rates in the near-term, he said.
For the Dojo supercomputer program, Wall Street expects “a more detailed program description, rather than just speaking about a working chip and tile,” Selesky said.
Tesla is likely to deliver on that, Selesky said. “I think the details will be more developed than ever before.”
Tesla’s first event dedicated to showcasing its artificial-intelligence prowess took place in August 2021, featuring the all-too-human robot stand-in.
At the time, Chief Executive Elon Musk said a robot prototype is expected next year, and called Tesla “the world’s biggest robotics company.”
In a note earlier this month, Gene Munster and Rebecca Mulberg of Loup Funds said they expect AI Day to be a “combination of hard-to-understand technical jargon along with optimistic comments from Elon regarding the timeline of FSD.”
And while many people may leave the event thinking there was little news, that would be missing the point, they said.
“Autonomy is coming, and no other auto maker has made the progress that Tesla has in advancing its potential. Eventually, Tesla will get it right and FSD will ship,” with Tesla once again being years ahead of its competition, they said.
Musk has long been criticized for loose timelines and goals around full autonomy, with FSD capabilities seen touted as they are far from reality, and still costly. Tesla last month raised the price of FSD beta to $15,000.
Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance features have gone through a several repackaging and renaming, with the company dropping “Enhanced Autopilot” some three years ago and making some of the features of Autopilot, its suite of ADAS systems, standard. It sold FSD for $10,000 then, with the price rising to $12,000 earlier this year.
The “promise” of a fully autonomous FSD has been on the table since 2018, and recent system updates have underscored how “even some of FSD’s basic driving behaviors still need refinement,” the Loup analysts said.
Tesla, which disbanded its media and public relations team in 2020, did not immediately return a request for confirming the AI Day start time, but that’s expected for 8 p.m. Eastern. The event has been postponed from August, with the hope that Tesla will have a Optimus prototype on Friday.s
Tesla stock has lost 19% so far this year, compared with losses of around 22% for the S&P 500 index. /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.79%
This story was updated with the scheduled start time for the event.