Tesla Patent Shows Clear Robotaxi Solutions

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Not that anyone needs it, but we’ve got more proof that Tesla is thinking seriously about robotaxi service and trying to prepare its table for that. Tesla has been awarded a patent for automatic cleaning — well, sanitizing — of enclosed spaces (i.e., vehicle interiors) shared by multiple people (i.e., passengers in taxis or robotaxis).

Here’s the exact summary language from the patent: “The present disclosure relates to systems and methods for sanitizing an enclosed space that can be shared among multiple persons. In some embodiments, a sanitation system detects a current environmental condition associated with the enclosed space to generate sensor data. The sanitation system then obtains or generates a sanitation routine based at least in part on the sensor data. Based on the sanitation routine, the sanitation system causes a component associated with the enclosed space to adjust the current environmental condition toward a target environmental condition, where the sanitation routine specifies the component and the target environmental condition.”

There’s an extensive body of text in the patent that could make your eyes bleed, but an independent patent researcher, “SETI Park,” nicely summarizes the key features.

Key features include:
▫️ Environmental detection through various sensors: detecting temperature, humidity, presence of pathogens, etc.
▫️ Customized sanitation routines: generating appropriate sanitation routines based on detected environmental conditions.
▫️ Various sanitation methods: utilizing HVAC systems, UV lighting, steam generators, etc.
▫️ Automated processes: automatically executing sanitation processes when people are absent.
▫️ Adaptive system: adjusting sanitation methods considering external weather, vehicle usage history, etc.

If you think we’re reading too much into it being for robotaxis, don’t worry, there’s proof of that too.

The patent also discloses a vehicle sharing cycle utilizing this system (Figure 11):
1️⃣ Vehicle owner’s use
2️⃣ Environmental detection and sanitation after parking
3️⃣ Other passenger’s vehicle use
4️⃣ Re-sanitation after passenger disembarkation
5️⃣ Moving to a sanitation spot for more thorough sanitation if necessary

Does this mean Tesla is almost ready to roll out robotaxis? No, of course not, but it does indicate that Tesla is thinking about and working on more than just the self-driving software and hardware. But it’s really all about the self-driving software and hardware. Until that is ready, all the self-sanitizing patents in the world aren’t going to bring us robotaxis. Stay tuned. In the meantime, perhaps be happy that Tesla is thinking more about the human and operational process inside the robotaxi’s passenger compartment. What I’d like to see next are some nice reclining seats with pillows that will help you to have a good snooze on your trip to work, the gym, sporting events, dinner, home, or whatever.


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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