Elon Musk wants Tesla owners to be able to add their electric cars to a fleet of autonomous ‘taxis’ while the CEO also plans electric buses and lorries.
Publishing the second part of his self-styled ‘masterplan’, the entrepreneur also said he wants to build a “solar-roof-with-battery product” that people can have fitted to their homes.
Writing that his ambition is to “accelerate the advent of sustainable energy”, Musk revealed that once the cars’ Autopilot was fully operational, owners will be able to make money from them when they are not in use.
That would put Tesla into direct competition with taxi disruptors Uber and Lyft.
He said Tesla would “operate its own fleet, ensuring you can always hail a ride from us no matter where you are”.
“We must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse,” he wrote.
“Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better.”
Defending Tesla’s purchase of SolarCity, a struggling company of which Musk is chief executive, Musk wrote: “We can’t do this well if Tesla and SolarCity are different companies, which is why we need to combine and break down the barriers inherent to being separate companies.”
The company’s use of auto-steering technology is being investigated by the US road safety watchdog after a Tesla owner died in Florida when the driver-assist function failed to detect a truck in its path.
Tesla has always maintained that drivers using the Autopilot function should be immediately ready to take over in the event of an emergency.
Another of its electric cars was involved in a crash recently with the Autopilot function enabled.
Will be working at Tesla on Autopilot & Model 3 today, then aiming to pull an all-nighter and complete the master product plan
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 19, 2016
Musk wrote in his ‘masterplan’ that Autopilot is still in beta mode, which all drivers are made aware of.
“It would no more make sense to disable Tesla’s Autopilot, as some have called for, than it would to disable autopilot in aircraft, after which our system is named,” he continued.
“It is also important to explain why we refer to Autopilot as ‘beta’. This is not beta software in any normal sense of the word. Every release goes through extensive internal validation before it reaches any customers.
“It is called beta in order to decrease complacency and indicate that it will continue to improve (Autopilot is always off by default).
“Once we get to the point where Autopilot is approximately 10 times safer than the US vehicle average, the beta label will be removed.”
Germany now plans to include ‘black boxes’ in for autonomous cars to help determine responsibility in the event of an accident.