Tesla Enhanced Autopilot
In the updated "master plan" for Tesla Motors he released in July, CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla plans to continue pursuing self-driving cars, as well as a company-managed sharing service.
Musk described a scheme in which owners could rent out their autonomous Teslas as part of a ride-sharing service, then summon them back when needed.
Tesla took an important step toward this goal earlier this week, when Musk announced that hardware upgrades would soon allow its cars to achieve full autonomy.
And it seems that Tesla is working on the other part of the equation: the infrastructure for a ride-sharing service.
The company will launch an Uber-like ride-sharing service called "Tesla Network," with details to come next year, according to Reuters.
The news service pointed to a disclaimer posted on the Tesla website related to newly-announced autonomous-driving features.
2016 Tesla Model S
"Please note that using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year," the disclaimer said.
That would seem to follow the timeline laid out by Musk for Tesla electric cars to achieve full autonomy.
In a press conference last week, Musk said his goal would be for a self-driving Tesla vehicle to leave Los Angeles, take one or more occupants to New York City, and park there without any driver input, as soon as next year.
This would be achieved by an upgraded suite of sensors and hardware, which will be installed in all Tesla electric cars produced henceforth.
Tesla Model 3
While Tesla prides itself on taking a different approach to the car industry than established automakers, it's actually somewhat late to the party in the case of autonomous ride sharing.
General Motors invested in Uber competitor Lyft, and its Cruise Automation subsidiary is currently testing autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV prototypes.
Volvo has also forged an alliance with Uber, which is currently offering rides in its own autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid prototypes in Pittsburgh.
Even Ford, which lags significantly in electric cars, announced earlier this year that it would launch an autonomous production car by 2021 for ride-sharing services.