Tesla is not a traditional car maker, and with every mile its cars travel, it starts to look more and more like a tech company like Google or Facebook.
Earlier this week, Elon Musk tweeted that the company will store its driver profiles to the cloud rather than locally on their vehicles. It’s just the latest move the company has made that comes straight from the tech giants’ playbook.
Moving user profiles to the cloud could mean things like temperature settings, seat adjustments, and other personal settings would be able to be downloaded to any Tesla in the world.
This becomes useful for customers who upgrade their Teslas, or for someone who rents a Tesla on a regular basis, but is even better for the car maker. Storing customer profiles in the cloud means Tesla could theoretically gather and analyse tons of data about its drivers, similar to how big tech companies study their users’ behaviour.
We are going to move all info and settings to the “cloud” (aka server) so any Tesla you drive in the world automatically adjusts to you
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 20, 2017
Google and Facebook are two of the largest advertising companies in the world because of the detailed information they store about their users. The companies offer consumers free services in exchange for this detailed user information, which then enables advertisers to ensure their ads are reaching the customers they want to target.
User data is also valuable for training machine learning algorithms. Massive amounts of data about driving patterns are needed to train autonomous driving systems, for example. The type of data in users’ profiles probably wouldn’t be useful for autonomous driving, but could help the company optimise other areas of its cars to better serve its users needs.
Tesla has been collecting this sort of driving data for a while. The company said that 1.3 billion miles of data have been collected by cars with the full suite of autopilot sensors on them.
Tesla recently updated its data sharing policy so it could collect “short video clips” from its cars in order to improve its autonomous driving technology as well. Tesla is continuing to build up a massive treasure trove of data about its users that becomes more and more valuable as it tries to compete against the competition.
The data is one of the biggest advantages Tesla has over traditional car makers and tech companies trying their hands at autonomous driving technology. Tesla has installed eight cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors on all of its new vehicles since the third quarter of last year, according to the company’s investor letter at the time.
All those sensors recording data from drivers could prove to be an invaluable tool in building self-driving technology. Tech companies may have the sensors and traditional car makers might have the bulk miles, but neither have both like Tesla.
Tesla is up 60.6% so far this year.
Get the latest Tesla stock price here.