Elon Musk again hinted at an upcoming rideshare program Tesla is developing that would mix two hot trends in the automotive industry: e-hailing services and self-driving cars.
Tesla has mentioned plans for such a service before, and Musk said in May it would "probably" be ready to launch by the end of 2019. On a Wednesday earnings call after Tesla reported its third-quarter earnings, Musk said his company's service would "compete directly with Uber and Lyft, obviously."
But the major difference between the three service is that Musk's platform, dubbed the Tesla Network, would be entirely made up of autonomous cars.
Tesla will provide its own fleet of company-owned cars for customers to hail, as well as maintain a network of Tesla owners who can make money by lending out their cars for use and recalling them for personal use at will (like home-sharing service Airbnb).
There are competitors out there that are planning their own ride-hailing services for self-driving cars - both Waymo and General Motors have made known their intentions. However, Musk said in May that Tesla would use cameras and radar instead of LiDAR sensors, which use laser light to measure the car's distance from other objects on the road.
Tesla has yet to develop full self-driving software, as it races other major companies investing in the technology, including Apple, Amazon, General Motor's Cruise, Intel's Mobileye, and Alphabet's Waymo (just to name a few).
Tesla does have its Autopilot system, with semi-autonomous driving capabilities. Up until last week, Tesla was selling "full self-driving hardware" on its site, which would give customers access to these capabilities as soon as the software become available and had regulatory approval. But customers were confused about the difference between the two, so Tesla removed the full self-driving option from its website.
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