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Elon Musk Bans Tesla Self-Driving Cars from Being Used for Ridesharing

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【Summary】Tesla: "Please note also 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."

Original Michael Cheng    Nov 01, 2016 7:30 PM PT

Tesla's cars are getting smarter. The company recently announced that every vehicle it produces will come with self-driving capabilities. However, this doesn't mean that consumers will be able to navigate autonomously back home from the car dealership. These features have to be activated by the company before they can be used on the open road.

The highly anticipated upgrade includes a total of eight cameras (providing 360-degree visibility with 250 meters of range), high-performance radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a compact supercomputer, which will be offered in a self-driving package worth $8,000. Some buyers are concerned about the hefty price tag and have voiced out a lucrative plan of their own: buy a self-driving Tesla car and use it to earn extra income via ridesharing programs, like Uber or Lyft.

 

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Master Plan (Part 2) in Action 

Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla), who is always a few steps ahead of his tech-savvy customers, shot down this concept, as it conflicts with the company's plan to launch its own ridesharing network. "Please note also 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," said Tesla on its website.

Individuals who are closely following Tesla's plans to disrupt the transportation sector will associate this ban with an eye-opening blog post that Musk published himself, titled "Master Plan, Part Deux." The article offers details about the company's future, including its collaboration with SolarCity. At the very end of the post, Musk provides a brief glimpse of the brand's ridesharing ambitions. He stated that Tesla owners will eventually be able to use their vehicles to participate in a ridesharing program that is powered by a massive fleet of Tesla cars. It's safe to say that this feature is coming very soon, as the automaker revealed that the ridesharing network is due to launch in 2017.

 

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Tesla Turning into Uber (and Vice Versa)

This ban is sending mixed signals to prospective and current Tesla owners. Some individuals question the company's right to impose such boundaries, because no other automaker has applied similar restrictions to their offerings. It is important to consider that Musk isn't completely preventing the company's cars from being used for ridesharing purposes. He is simply banning the vehicle's use with other ridesharing programs. This actually makes the restriction even more controversial, because the company is "forcing" its self-driving cars to be "locked in" with its own ridesharing network.

How Tesla plans to enforce this restriction is still unknown. It is very unlikely that the company will reveal how it will detect a rogue self-driving Tesla car that is participating with other ridesharing programs. So far, Tesla has reassured individuals who are skeptical about self-driving technology and state regulators that it is mining an overwhelming amount of data to ensure its vehicles are safe for mainstream use. This may include information surrounding autonomous activities that look suspicious, like constantly picking up random passengers throughout the day or waiting at random pick-up points without physically getting out of the vehicle.


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