Tesla teases self-driving ride sharing network

Tesla leader Elon Musk at a press conference with the Model S, one of the cars with self-driving capabilities / Getty

How incredibly cool would it be if you needed a ride somewhere and you could just pull out your phone, order a car, and it would arrive without the hassle of making small talk with a stranger or the potential danger of getting in a car with someone you don’t know?

Tesla, it seems, intends to do just that. At their event announcing their new autopilot software, Tesla reps hinted at the future for a Tesla-run ride sharing program called the Tesla Network.

Tesla’s newest release of Autopilot, version 7.0 was released earlier this month at an event that the Tesla team promised would share unexpected developments for the company. With the new program release, the company announced that their Model X and Model S electric cars would come with optional capability for full self-driving, rather than the assisted driving of previous autopilot versions. The cars themselves are not yet capable of full autonomy, but Tesla is preparing their vehicles for when that day comes.

While no other details about the Tesla Network have been released, this interesting development comes with a caveat. Tesla drivers are strictly forbidden from using their personal self-driving cars for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Ars Technica pointed out the section of the company’s website telling drivers to take 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.”

To some, the idea of a car that drives itself with minimal input from the driver or passengers seems like a great idea. Simply set your car to take you where you want to go and suddenly you’ve found yourself with a lot more time to catch up on your reading, go on a Netflix binge, or even get some work done. Others though, might find it a little disconcerting. With Germany recommending Tesla not call their program self-driving at all before the release of this new version of the software, some might think the product is not 100 per cent safe. Tesla’s initial autopilot program resulted in at least one confirmed death because the driver was not paying attention to the road. This of course is nothing compared to the over 1 million people worldwide that the World Health Organization says die in automobile crashes each year.

 

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