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Elon Musk talks Tesla Network and ‘plug-in’ vision neural net hardware upgrade

Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call provided some updates on the Tesla Network, a ride-sharing program outlined by Elon Musk in his Master Plan, Part Deux. Musk also shared some insights on the Full-Self Driving hardware of its vehicles, teasing “plug-in” replacements that could give its fleet more processing power.

The updates to the Tesla Network were part of Elon Musk’s response to a question from Galileo Russell, a retail investor and host of HyperChangeTV, who had the opportunity to ask Musk a series of questions that lead to arguably the most informative earnings call to date. During the Q&A, Russell asked Musk about the company’s plans for the Tesla Network, considering that autonomous car companies such as Waymo are launching full self-driving taxi services this year.

Musk stated that the Tesla Network would be somewhat akin to a hybrid of Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. The tech entrepreneur, however, noted that full autonomy has to be achieved first before the service could be rolled out. Here are some excerpts from Elon Musk’s discussion about the Tesla Network.

“For the whole sort of system to work, you need all the pieces in place. You need to have full autonomy, full 4 or 5, and obviously a lot of cars in the road, and then build the software infrastructure behind that to enable shared autonomy, so to help enable people to share their cars and be able to offer their cars as effectively, kind of a robo-Lyft or robo-Uber.

“It’s sort of like a combination of Uber, Lyft and Airbnb type of thing, where you can own your car and have a higher percent usage of an autonomous electric car. You can say it’s available generally to anyone who wants to use it when you’re not using it. You can recall it at will. You can restrict usage to only friends and family or only users who are 5-star.”

Musk also shared some new insights into Tesla’s hardware and its capability to achieve full autonomy. According to Musk, he is confident that Tesla vehicles being produced today are all capable of full self-driving. In the event that more processing power is needed for the vehicles’ vision neural net, Musk noted that a computer upgrade in the form of a “plug-in replacement” could be offered.

“In order for that to be in place, we have to obviously solve full autonomy, and we’re making a really good progress on that front. I believe that the current production of — the vehicles that we are currently producing are capable of full autonomy, but the only thing that would really be, like, might be needed or maybe is probably needed is a computer upgrade to have more processing power for the vision neural net. But that’s a plug-in replacement, a thing that can be done quite easily.”

Ultimately, Musk stated that from a technical standpoint at least, the components of the Tesla Network would probably be “ready by the end of next year.”

As we noted in a previous report, Elon Musk stated during the Q3 2016 earnings call that most of the revenue from the Tesla Network would be given to the owners of the vehicles, allowing the cars to pay for themselves. Hardware replacements were also mentioned by Elon Musk on Twitter recently, with the CEO stating that Tesla owners with older vehicles would be able to retrofit newer hardware onto their electric cars.

Tesla Network details and additional insight by Musk, in response to the fantastic questions asked by Russell during the earnings call, can be seen on HyperchangeTV.

Elon Musk talks Tesla Network and ‘plug-in’ vision neural net hardware upgrade
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