Tesla is in “discussion” to license its Full Self-Driving (FSD) driver-assist technology to another major automaker, Elon Musk said in an earnings call Wednesday. He did not reveal the name of the company, though he did say that licensing FSD was always part of the plan.
“We’re not trying to keep this to ourselves,” Musk said on the call. “We’re more than happy to license it to others.”
Musk has spoken about licensing FSD to competitors in the past. Last month, he tweeted that “Tesla aspires to be as helpful as possible to other car companies” — adding, “Also happy to license Autopilot/FSD or other Tesla technology.”
“We’re not trying to keep this to ourselves”
Most automakers’ driver-assist systems are for limited use on highways, while Tesla allows its customers to engage FSD on local roads with traffic signals, intersections, and vulnerable road users. The system controls acceleration and deceleration, makes turns — including unprotected left turns, which are extremely difficult for automated systems — and recognizes traffic signals and other road signs. The system also requires drivers to pay attention to the road and take control of the vehicle when asked.
Tesla’s driver-assist technology has pushed the boundaries of what’s safe for customers to use on public roads and has drawn attention from federal regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating 16 crashes in which Tesla vehicle owners using Autopilot crashed into stationary emergency vehicles, resulting in 15 injuries and one fatality. Tesla is facing a possible recall of Autopilot, FSD, or both after the government upgraded its investigation earlier this year.
Last year, Tesla recalled FSD after the top federal safety agency identified the driver-assist program as a “crash risk.” The company briefly paused FSD rollout as it pushed an over-the-air software update to address the issues identified by regulators. The Washington Post recently analyzed federal crash data and found that there have been 736 crashes involving Tesla vehicles with Autopilot since 2019, including 17 deaths.
Tesla’s driver-assist technology has pushed the boundaries of what’s safe for customers to use on public roads
Nevertheless, Tesla’s aggressive push of driver-assist features on its customers has influenced its competitors to follow suit with its own products. Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and others are developing what’s called Level 3 autonomous systems, which can control the vehicle without driver input under certain conditions.
Tesla’s FSD isn’t the only technology to potentially find its way into a competitors’ vehicles. The company open-sourced its charging system last year, calling it the North American Charging Standard. Since then, a host of major automakers, including Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, have said they would adopt Tesla’s charging connector.
On the call, Musk also said that for the first time Tesla customers will be allowed to transfer FSD to another vehicle as a “one-time amnesty” only in the third quarter of this year. In this way, customers could transfer FSD to a newer Tesla vehicle so it wouldn’t be “locked” in an older model. This has been a popular request from customers who own multiple Tesla vehicles for a number of years.