While many of Tesla’s apparent competitive strengths are front and center, and quite obvious, one strength that isn’t often brought up is the company’s extensive (and fast growing) database of user driving patterns, traffic patterns, etc.
While the database is already currently in use by the company for a number of different purposes, the real value of the database will come into play more and more as the company’s autonomous driving technology continues to develop.
As has been revealed publicly, Tesla is aiming to use drivers to map out in great details essentially “every” lane of the developed world’s roads. Not an unambitious goal, I’d say — though certainly an interesting one.
This subject was recently brought to my attention again via a thread (thanks “CME”) on the Tesla Motors Club forum that offered up some interesting thoughts. Here are some of those:
“CME” started it off, noting, amongst other things, that:
With a large fleet of autopilot/self driving cars on the road, Tesla may just created its most valuable resource yet– road, traffic, driving data. If properly strategized and planned, this can be the most powerful weapon for Tesla to maintain its competitiveness.
Then there’s smart navigation, imagine your car suggest you change lane to avoid potholes or debris ahead, or change route to avoid road construction, congestion. Some of these functions are already available in Waze, bought by Google. Waze offers real time traffic information such as road hazards, police, and delays. However it requires users’ manual inputs, for Tesla, these information can be automatically entered and shared by computers. With sensors and camera, the information can be more accurate, timely and complete. As a Tesla beta tester (aka customer), every mile you drive influences not only the environment, but also the future of human transportation 🙂
Pretty similar to my own thoughts on the matter. Tesla seems to be setting itself up for some very interesting possibilities. More and more, it looks to me like the whole auto industry is going to be shaken up at a fundamental level over the next few decades.
Here are a few more interesting thoughts from other commentators:
Just another thought on this theme…. Autopilot ready cars have cameras looking around. They could analyze and report back what they are seeing. What if an “Amber Alert” (California wide alert to look for a car which may be driven by a kidnapper) could have Tesla cars automatically report back if they spotted the license plate of a vehicle being sought? Could be extended to any APB search… Would people object to their car being used as a law enforcement snoop tool? The technology is all there to support it. Along with reading speed limit signs, the car could report cars it sees with expired registrations, broken tail-lights, etc.
And “Cattledog” commented:
All of this ties to the SpaceX/Google partnership to create and launch a series of satellites. Among many things their network would enable is to radically increase their ability to send and receive data from their autonomous fleets.
Very interesting thoughts. For some reason, the idea of SpaceX as a means of improving scope of operations with regards to satellites hadn’t occurred to me before. So a solar photovoltaic (PV) system leasing company (that manufacturers its own panels now); an electric/autonomous car company; and a company capable of launching satellites. Hmm. That’s a very interesting suite of companies right there.