Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced via twitter that the company is “planning to open-source Tesla vehicle security software for free use by other car makers. Extremely important to a safe self-driving future for all.”
Great Q&A @defcon last night. Thanks for helping make Tesla & SpaceX more secure! Planning to open-source Tesla vehicle security software for free use by other car makers. Extremely important to a safe self-driving future for all.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 11, 2018
Back in 2014, Tesla decided to give away its patents for free. The company said that “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
The best explanation to Tesla’s decision to give away its patents in good faith was written by Bin Hu, Ming Hu, and Yi Yang on Informs.Org.
They wrote, “We believe that Tesla opened up its patents to tip the scale between the two competing technologies in its favor. This is the logic: if Tesla’s patents are more likely to be adopted by other auto makers because they are free, the electric vehicle technology is more likely to become mainstream, and holding on to this belief, component suppliers (including energy companies by extension) are more likely to make investments into the electric vehicle technology rather than the competing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle technology.”
Opening up patents for everyone offered two benefits. It creates a positive sentiment around the company, at least from a brand perspective and it also allows adoption of the company’s technologies by the wider market.
Open-sourcing code has the same effect as well. In the world of technology, open source is everything. Android is open source, despite Google holding all the aces. By keeping it open, Google was able to build a thriving global ecosystem of developers and third-party manufacturers around Android. That loop nearly eliminated every other player from the market.
Microsoft learned it the hard way. And the company changed its approach to embracing open source technologies instead of staying inside a walled garden that it used to build around its technologies.
Tesla is the technology leader in the automotive market. Connected Vehicle Security tech is still in its nascent stages. By open-sourcing the tech, Tesla can pull other players to adopt its systems and create an ecosystem which can then grow on its own. And Tesla will stay on top of it forever.