Tesla’s Full Self Driving package is made up of 3 key parts. The FSD computer is known as HW3/HW4, and then there are 8 cameras around the car and of course, the software that runs it all and displays the visuals to the vehicle occupants.
On the Q2 earnings call, Elon Musk announced that they are in discussions with a major OEM to license their FSD technology. Immediately speculation begins of which automaker Musk is referring to.
Historically it has been thought that no other OEMs would do this, for a couple of reasons. Firstly there’s the reputation and ego problem. For a major OEM to move to a Tesla-created solution they have to first admit their own efforts are not as good. Secondly, the OEM would have to commit to following Tesla’s design decisions and take on the update cycle for Tesla’s hardware/software.
While the actual end-user visuals could certainly be customised by the OEM, the system requires the cameras in fairly specific positions to work. If Tesla was to white-label FSD, they could potentially do the work to incorporate different height, and width positions for these cameras, within specific boundaries. This would impact vehicle design for the OEM and they’d need to be ok with that.
There’s also the question of data. Tesla famously collects video training data from the fleet. They do this by uploading clips to the cloud over WiFi when the car is parked. If an OEM was to license FSD, I expect they would also need to send this data (annonmised) to Tesla to assist in further training.
The ultimate question is, would supporting a 3rd party OEM, be worth the engineering distractions that this would bring for probably incremental revenue for the partnership?
My guess is the OEM is Ford, with Jim Farley admitting they are basically nowhere when it comes to software and autonomy and credited Tesla with their efforts. Ford was also among the first automakers to adopt the Tesla-designed NACS charging standard which created a waterfall effect and sees almost all charging providers and automakers adopting it for the NA market.
Who do you think is the OEM Elon’s talking about?