Autonomous vehicles are the future, regardless of your stance on their development. Tesla is clearly the leader and is the center of my questions. As a gearhead more familiar with computerless, carburetor engines, I know little on how a Tesla works but am totally fascinated.

If you’re a Tesla owner and have answers, message me on Twitter. I’d love to learn more.

Augmented reality while driving.

Assuming 1) safety levels reach a point where drivers aren’t required to focus on the road anymore and 2) virtual reality headsets significantly reduce form factor, would it be possible to use VR to change your view of the driving experience?

For example, if worn at night, you could view in total darkness via the car’s night vision cameras. Or, as a simple example, VR could give you a full field of view unrestricted by blind spots like door posts. Heck, you could see right through the door itself and look directly at the road beside you if programmers chose to add that feature in VR.

As a fun example, what if you could change your daytime view of the road to look like something out of an 80’s arcade racer? VR headsets are cumbersome these days but as their physical size shrinks to roughly the size of regular sunglasses, these ideas become feasible.

The future of motorcycles?

Will on-road motorcycles and recreational ATVs explode in popularity when manually-driven cars get phased out and are potentially outlawed in the future? I can envision people craving that freedom of control again and finding it with alternatives like a Harley Davidson.

Or, is the ultimate plan to remove self-driven motorcycles from the road as well?

Autonomous vehicles in winter conditions.

From what I know, Teslas have surprisingly good traction control in winter conditions. However, I’m not convinced if a mostly camera-guided car still works in total white-out conditions.

Being in New England, I’ve driven through snow storms so thick that I had to hang my head out the door window to see because the wipers couldn’t clear the windshield fast enough. Say nothing about the road being totally white with no visible lines. How does that work in a Tesla?

Driving at night without headlights?

I can envision nefarious owners driving at night with no headlights, either by manually turning them off (if that’s possible) or just taping over them. Since the car would be self-driving via cameras and radar, it seems like you could cruise in total blackness with zero lights at all.

You might be asking why someone would do this but that’s much less important than asking can you do this. If the latter, then I guarantee some people will.

The steering wheel needs to remain. For now.

Voice and touch controls would have to drastically improve before removing the steering wheel makes sense. There are too many scenarios where the car would need some kind of input to get where you want to go. If voice and touch became the only options right now, that’d be the equivalent of trying to do your day job via Siri or Alexa alone. AI needs to vastly improve for that experience to go smoothly.

Tesla with a pull-behind trailer.

Can a Tesla back up with a small trailer, like a pop-up camper or a boat? I’m curious if it can account for the extra axle in reverse or make wider turns to avoid curbs.

Unexpected events on the road.

How does a Tesla handle a speeding police car or ambulance coming up from behind? Currently, people are able to pull over when seeing these events in the rear view mirror but would an autonomous vehicle be smart enough to do the same?

Data is Tesla’s long game.

I predict that the long-term vision of Tesla is not competing to sell cars but to gather data collected from having such a large fleet.

For example, witnessing a Google “Street View” vehicle taking pictures for their map software is a rare occurrence. From what I can tell, they just don’t have that many vehicles capturing photos.

Now, imagine hundreds of thousands of Teslas with several cameras each and state-of-the-art onboarding processing, all funneling data back to Tesla. Overnight, they could create the next best map software if they wanted to. This is a very basic example but there must be countless other uses for their data, such as monitoring driver decisions, road conditions, and so on.

This could very easily turn into a privacy issue for Tesla owners if their driving records are closely tracked and stored. I believe cars themselves are not the main vision of Tesla; it’s the data they can gather from having what are essentially computers on wheels.

Does this “fleet brain” also tie into Open AI somehow? Just about all of Elon’s ventures tend to overlap.