Tesla to license Full Self-Driving stack to other automakers, says Musk

Multiple safety investigations, patches for unsafe behavior, and the fact it's still a beta haven't dissuaded other OEMs?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk let an interesting tidbit slip during yesterday's Q2 earnings call: his car company has plans to license its as-yet Full Self-Driving stack to other automakers.

Musk made the claim in his opening remarks on the call, saying that Tesla was open to licensing both its FSD software and hardware to other car companies – and is already working toward that end. 

"We are [in] early discussions with a major OEM about using the Tesla FSD," Musk said, "so we're not trying to keep this to ourselves."

This is despite multiple government investigations into the safety of Tesla Autopilot, a patch released earlier this year to stop self-driving Teslas from "act[ing] unsafe around intersections," Mercedes-Benz beating Tesla to level 3 self-driving in California, and the fact Tesla FSD features are still in beta.  

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating Tesla's FSD system since last year. The investigation was prompted by a number of roadside accidents involving level 2 advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), 70 percent of which involved Teslas. Since that data was released, Tesla has maintained its startling lead in level 2 ADAS accidents, including being involved in 21 out of 22 fatal crashes recorded since the NHTSA started gathering data.

The fact that the NHTSA and the US Department of Justice are both investigating Tesla over the capabilities and marketing of its ADAS software makes it surprising that Tesla might license it.

We asked the NHTSA and DoJ about the legality of Tesla licensing a product being investigated over safety concerns, but didn't hear back from either. Questions to Tesla also went unanswered.

More broadly, Tesla had a rather successful quarter, according to its own data. Musk claimed his electric automaker achieved record vehicle production, deliveries and quarterly revenue "in spite of high interest rates and a lot of macro uncertainty."

Despite initial gains, Tesla stock was down by more than 7 percent on Thursday morning on concerns about the company's shrunken margins.

Tesla also announced that owners buying a newer Muskmobile would get a one-time amnesty allowing them to transfer their $15,000 FSD beta to their new ride in Q3 of this year. "But … I mean, this is a one-time thing, OK?" Musk said of the move.

One analyst on the conference call asked if $15k was too steep a price for FSD, but Musk defended the expense as being "a low price, not a high price."

Full Self-Driving when? This year, says Musk. Again

Musk was asked a rather pointed question during the call about whether Tesla was getting close to non-beta FSD or an eyes-off version of Autopilot, as he has claimed for years. Musk demurred, but not before falling back on his usual comment that it's "coming soon".

"You know, as people have sort of made fun of me and perhaps, you know, quite fairly have made fun of me, my predictions about achieving full self-driving have been optimistic in the past," Musk said. 

The billionaire went on to say that FSD improvements happen on a logarithmic curve, or multiple logarithmic curves, even. Somehow that means FSD is still just around the corner.

"I know I'm the boy who cried FSD, but man, I think – I think we'll be better than human by the end of this year," Musk opined, adding that doesn't mean regulators will approve a truly self-driving Tesla in the same time frame.

"I've been wrong in the past. I may be wrong this time," Musk said. ®

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