During an earnings call on Wednesday, Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, revealed that the company is engaged in discussions to license its Full Self-Driving (FSD) driver-assist technology to a major automaker. Although Musk did not disclose the specific company involved, he emphasized that licensing FSD had always been part of their strategic plan.
Musk has previously expressed interest in offering FSD to competitors. In a tweet last month, he stated that Tesla aims to be cooperative with other car manufacturers, expressing a willingness to license not only Autopilot/FSD but also other Tesla technologies.
Unlike most automakers that limit their driver-assist systems to highways, Tesla permits its customers to use FSD on local roads with traffic signals, intersections, and vulnerable road users. The system encompasses various functions, including acceleration, deceleration, making turns, including challenging unprotected left turns, and recognizing traffic signals and road signs. However, it requires drivers to remain attentive and ready to take control of the vehicle when necessary.
Tesla's ambitious approach to driver-assist technology has raised concerns and drawn the attention of federal regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently investigating 16 crashes involving Tesla vehicles using Autopilot, which resulted in 15 injuries and one fatality when they collided with stationary emergency vehicles. As a result, the NHTSA is considering the possibility of recalling Autopilot, FSD, or both, following an upgraded investigation.
Notably, Tesla previously faced a recall of FSD after regulatory authorities identified it as a "crash risk." The company promptly addressed the concerns with an over-the-air software update, temporarily halting FSD rollout.
Despite these challenges, Tesla's assertive promotion of driver-assist features has influenced other automakers to develop their own products in this domain. Competitors such as Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and others are working on Level 3 autonomous systems that can control vehicles without direct driver input under specific conditions.
Tesla's FSD technology is not the only innovation that could be adopted by competitors. Last year, the company open-sourced its charging system, known as the North American Charging Standard. As a result, several major automakers, including Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, have expressed intentions to adopt Tesla's charging connector.
During the earnings call, Elon Musk also announced a significant change for Tesla customers. For the first time, they will be allowed to transfer FSD to another Tesla vehicle as a "one-time amnesty" during the third quarter of this year. This move addresses a longstanding request from customers who own multiple Tesla vehicles over the years, enabling them to transfer FSD to newer models without being locked into an older one.
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