When you pay $5k for auto pilot, is it a "license"?

When you pay $5k for auto pilot, is it a "license"?

Whenever you buy software for your computer, what you are actually buying is a license to use the software. The disks, downloads, etc that you use to install it are not the "thing you are buying"; it is the right to use the software on your computer.

What about Auto Pilot? If I total my Tesla tomorrow, what happens to my ownership of Auto Pilot? If I replace the car with another identical car, will Tesla upload Auto Pilot to it? After all I paid to use the software already. How about if I sell my Tesla and choose not to sell it with Auto Pilot, and then buy another Tesla? Will Tesla uninstall Auto Pilot from car #1 and install it into car #2?

jimglas | 2019年1月23日

No, the software is assigned to the car, it cannot be transferred to a new car. Like when you buy a new computer, you buy a new copy of microsoft word for the new computer.

EVRider | 2019年1月23日

@jimglas: Bad example, because you can in fact move your Word license to a different computer, but you're right in that Autopilot goes with the car, not with the owner.

@steven: Think of it this way -- Autopilot is a feature that you're paying for in the car, which just happens to be implemented in the car's firmware (like pretty much everything else in the car). It's not an aftermarket application that you're installing, like Word.

reed_lewis | 2019年1月23日

Any commercial software can be legally moved to a new computer. There are no restrictions on using a licensed program on a new computer as long as only one copy of the program (or however many it is licensed for) is being used.

But Auto Pilot is more like an option in the car which cannot be transferred.

jimglas | 2019年1月23日

good to know, I have never been able to transfer programs to a new computer | 2019年1月23日

@ steven - While not exactly asked, if you total your car with Autopilot, the insurance company will pay you for the car's value with Autopilot. A few policies will pay 100% if totaled in the first year of ownership, which would include 100% of AP's cost too. At that point the insurance company owns the car and the AP. If you could remove AP, you would be stealing it from the insurance company.

AP is also a lot more than software, but that's another discussion.

EVRider | 2019年1月23日

@TeslaTap: You’re right about the hardware. I should have clarified that the “enablement” of the Autopilot feature is implemented in firmware. Everyone pays for the AP hardware.

bp | 2019年1月24日

The short answer to "is it a license?" - we don't know.

It probably isn't a license - but there isn't anything in the official legal documentation that addresses this issue.

The Purchase Agreement only lists that you have purchased Enhanced Autopilot or Full-Self Driving Capability, but doesn't provide any definition of what that means - and the agreement has the typical legal boilerplate stating that anything not in the agreement is non-binding, invalidating any statements on Tesla's website or by Tesla staff.

The Purchase Agreement doesn't state the features are a license that could be transferred to another vehicle. But it also doesn't state that the features are NOT a transferable license.

The Purchase Agreement doesn't say anything about software-activatable features like EAP/FSD, software-limited battery packs or software-limited chargers (some vehicles have 72A chargers that are limited to 48A). The owner has purchased the hardware - the agreement doesn't make any statement about owners having or not having the rights to fully use the hardware in their vehicles (such as finding a way to software activate some of these features).

It seems unlikely Tesla will consider EAP/FSD as a license that could be transferred to another Tesla vehicle. Though the only way to be sure is to ask Tesla about this, and get an official answer in writing (i.e., something on Tesla letterhead, signed by a Tesla official).

EVRider | 2019年1月24日

@bp: We do know that Autopilot doesn’t transfer to a new vehicle — plenty of people have upgraded to newer cars, and none have gotten Autopilot transferred as far as I know. I’m not sure what value there would be to get this confirmed in writing, unless someone was planning to sue Tesla for the right to transfer AP. | 2019年1月24日

Also, unlike a computer software, where you have a CD or file that can be transferred, There is no access to something you can remove from one Tesla and install it in another. Actually, I suspect every modern Tesla has all the software installed, but you need to activate it. Again - no way for owners to do this (sort of).

Ok, I think Jason Hughes has activated features, but to do so, I believe he removed the MCU, gained direct access to the software with modified hardware and software on a salvaged Tesla. Something even most skilled programmers are not up for. It would also likely violate the warranty if in force and Tesla may elect to sever connections to the server (i.e no updates, no maps, no streaming, etc.).

reed_lewis | 2019年1月24日

Actually Tesla could license the autopilot feature as a feature on a household basis if they wanted to. Every new car you would buy could have the autopilot feature. I doubt that this will ever happen, but it would be nice in multiple Tesla households...

EVRider | 2019年1月24日

@reed: Tesla could do that, but then they might lose the ability to charge more for newer generations of AP. For example, if people could have paid for an AP1 license, should they get EAP in a new car without paying more?