Earlier this week, I wrote an article about German automakers and their obsession with mentioning Tesla. Volkswagen, Audi and BMW all rely on Tesla in terms of technology and production of electric vehicles. While the three German giants admit that Tesla has a multi-year lead in the electric vehicle industry, everyone believes they can reach Elon Musk and the rest of the crew.
After publishing the article, Elon replied and said that Tesla was willing to help companies move to sustainable forms of transportation because it would help the world as a whole. However, there is evidence to suggest that Tesla and Elon will help those who request it, not those who attempt to get information in a way that could be considered “sneaky”
Tesla is open to licensing software and the supply of thrusters and batteries. We are only trying to accelerate sustainable energy, not to crush competitors!
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 29, 2020
In addition, one of Musk’s followers had asked if Tesla’s autopilot could be shared with other automakers in an attempt not only to speed up the charge towards semi-autonomous driving. Musk simply replied, “Sure”, indicating that there seemed to be no limit in terms of what Tesla would be willing to share with his “competitors” as capitalism would refer to them.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 29, 2020
For me, I found that simple “safe” answer as one of the most interesting tweets of Musk’s illustrious career on Twitter. Not only did the CEO provide many of my friends and me with a good deal of laughter and me because of his great sense of humor, but his digs in other companies, as well as some of the more ironic things he said , have always intrigued me.
When he said “Sure”, all I thought about was the cause Tesla currently has against an Xpeng engineer who previously worked for Tesla.
For those of you who don’t know, Tesla sued engineer Xpeng Cao Guangzhi earlier this year, who worked for Tesla.
Guangzhi allegedly stole pieces of Tesla’s autopilot source code and attempted to sell it to Xpeng for financial gain. Guangzhi had downloaded portions of the code to his personal laptop and then shared it through Apple Airdrop, which is difficult to trace due to the encryption used by Apple. However, he ensures that he removed it from his personal laptop before leaving Tesla to join Xpeng.
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The case is still ongoing.
But what I found more interesting than Musk’s simple one-word answer was the fact that he said he would be willing to share autopilot developments with other automakers. But it seems that it must be done in a good and harmless way, and not in a subtle way. This is completely understandable, in my opinion.
If Guangzhi did what Tesla is accusing him of doing, he would be seriously sneaky and imperfect. Tesla is a leader in semi-autonomous driving thanks to the developments of its Artificial Intelligence team, led by Andrej Karpathy. What separates Tesla from any other self-driving company is the fact that it is constantly improving thanks to the company’s neural network. As information is communicated to the neural network with all Tesla vehicles on the road, the company’s self-driving software becomes more sophisticated and more accurate as it can predict upcoming driver movements around a car.
If this source code were to be leaked or delivered to another company, it could be detrimental to Tesla’s advantage in the autonomous universe. I am thrilled to see how the case goes.
More recently, Tesla has sued Rivian for poaching former employees and stealing trade secrets. Interestingly, I had time to read several pages of the complaint from Tesla to Rivian and some employees openly admitted to taking confidential documents when they left Tesla.
I’m a big fan of Rivian. I think R.J. Scaringe, the company’s CEO, is a brilliant person who has a lot of potential to do extraordinary things. I have recommended a couple of my friends to invest in an R1T instead of getting a Cybertruck because they don’t like the Tesla pickup design. But in both cases, from my understanding of the legal documentation, it is up to Tesla to prove that Rivian has asked these employees to take things and that they are openly chasing Tesla employees. I think it will be a difficult cookie to decipher.
But either way, Rivian didn’t go directly to Tesla for help. I feel that if they needed help with electrification or autonomous code, they would have to contact Elon directly.
Elon has said for years that Tesla’s biggest enemy is not competitors that are developing sustainable electric vehicles. The companies that pose the biggest threat to Tesla are the biggest threat to all of us, who are the ones who refuse to adapt to the sustainable transport revolution. Companies that want to develop and improve internal combustion engine machines pose a threat. Not financially, but ecologically, because they are ignoring the apparent crisis that is happening in the world.
Looks like Elon wouldn’t be willing to help other automakers develop their vehicles if they asked for help? I don’t think so. Personally, when I look at Musk’s mission, I see a man who is interested in collaborating with anyone and everyone, as long as they are willing to admit that their drive towards sustainability is at the center and not on the backburner.
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