Although there are still plenty of car manufacturers pumping out new designs for human controlled, combustion equipped vehicles, many believe the writing is on the wall for the car industry. Along with being electric, our cars are going to drive us around autonomously and we may not even own them – that's why Tesla plans to launch its own Uber-like, ride sharing program.
Uber previously announced that it was going to gradually move towards driverless vehicles, beginning with small pilot schemes in some cities before pushing the scheme worldwide as the technology improves. In a tense, it's getting into the autonomous car game. Tesla, which is already a big player in that field, wants to cross itself into Uber's playspace, offering a ride sharing scheme using its electric, autonomous vehicles.
Tesla founder Elon Musk said earlier this week, that it was the company's plan to continue developing its autopilot system until full-autonomy was possible. However the notion of official Tesla ride sharing was mentioned in a disclaimer for the Model S' current autopilot features.
“Please note that using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year,” it reads (via Reuters).
All future Teslas will be built with cameras, ultrasonic and radar sensors.
Beyond the first insinuation that Tesla would be getting into the taxi business, what's interesting there is that it wants to stop other people from doing it. One of the suggested futures we may see with autonomous vehicles, is communities owning them together, or people renting theirs out during the day when they don't need it, in order to reduce parking space and the number of necessary vehicles on the road, while helping cover the costs for the initial purchase.
However if people are legally unable to make money from such a venture, the uptake of truly autonomous vehicles may be lessened. Of course if none of us are buying cars because there are so many affordable ride share options, that's not a problem, but it's interesting to note that Tesla wants to corner such a market itself.
It seems like we'll need to wait until 2017 to hear the details of what the “Tesla Network,” will be like, but perhaps it won't completely cut out consumers. Maybe it would mean giving a license fee or similar to Tesla if you use one of its vehicles for monetary purposes.
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KitGuru Says: Perhaps the reason Tesla would want a share of any ride sharing, is because the system will use its cloud platform for navigation and decision making purposes. If so, it doesn't want to end up funding other companies' business ventures.