Tesla has been considering to enable a Wifi hotspot in its vehicles for a while. Code about it appeared in its software in the past and last year, it introduced a new chip and module that could enable the feature.
Now CEO Elon Musk says that he is considering it along with a dynamic 360-degree surround view feature.
Tesla’s vehicles come with 4-year free – or more accurately “included in the price of the vehicle” – Internet data service plan. The company warned that they could introduce a monthly service fee after the 4-year period, but over the past year, early Model S vehicles have started to get over 4 years old and Tesla has yet to start charging anyone.
With the introduction of Autopilot, Tesla is using the internet connection to collect data for its autonomous driving neural net and high precision map building and therefore, the data plan could have become too useful for them to move the cost to customers.
But if Tesla was to add functionalities, it could make the transition to a paid plan easier. Musk is apparently still considering it and said that they would just need to add the billing software:
The ability to turn your vehicle into a hotspot is particularly useful to passengers. They will be able to use their own mobile devices (tablets, laptops, etc.) with the vehicle’s service plan. The feature will become increasingly important as Tesla’s vehicle become autonomous, especially with Tesla’s upcoming autonomous car-sharing service.
Musk also liked the idea of using the connection to feed a dynamic 360-degree surround view of the vehicle.
Of course, the idea would be that Tesla owners could be able to use the Autopilot’s cameras as a dashcam and record the content on a separate device connected to the car.
Though Musk is also apparently considering that the feature could be used as a livestream while driving – something Tesla apparently already has in dev mode. It’s likely what we are seeing when engineers are spotted with laptops on the passenger seat in test vehicles.
What do you think? You want to see those features in Tesla’s vehicles? What would you do with them? Let us know in the comment section below.