With FSD Beta evolving quickly, it’s fun to imagine where this technology takes us in a few years. Here’s some “Robotaxi Fan Fiction”: a couple of short stories about what the world might look like once this software is mature enough to enable driverless operation.
Evelyn kneeled under her desk, unplugging her phone charger from the wall outlet so she could plug in the printer she used once a year. As she got up, she hit her head on the desk.
“Ow, fuck!”, she swore as she grabbed the back of her head. This wasn’t the first time it had happened. “Eve, you dumbass”, she scolded herself, “just get another power strip!”. She grabbed her phone off the top of the desk and opened the Tesla shopping app.
Tesla Shopping was an app that could be accessed both on her phone or in her car. It contained listings for all the products available with curbside pickup designed for compatibility with Tesla Autopilot & FSD. By buying from a compatible store, she could send her car to go pick up the item by itself without having to step away from her work. After searching “power strip” on the cross store search engine, her display lit up with competing offers for power strips all across town — including both items new from store, and sold used by neighbors.
After a minute of browsing, Eve settled on a $10 option from Best Buy that received great reviews. After seeing that it was available to pickup within one hour, she quickly added it to her cart and headed to check out. The last thing to do was pay, and then the order would be sent in.
Eve groaned. The credit card on file on her Tesla account had just expired, and she had left her wallet with all her credit cards all the way up in her bedroom. She did not want to walk all the way up the stairs just to order the power strip. So she messaged her family group text, “Does anyone need the car for the next hour?”, and when everyone responded that they planned to stay home she clicked “Pay with my Tesla”.
Downstairs in the garage, the family’s 2022 Model Y flashed its headlights as it returned to life. As it downloaded order details, the car started planning. Not only did it need to pick up a power strip from Best Buy curbside pickup, it needed to go out and earn $10 to pay for it on the way. The car computer reached out to the Tesla Network servers, which were already aware of the situation. Robowork requests had already started pouring in.
First, the low hanging fruit. The Tesla Model Y opened the garage door, pulled into the driveway, and began collecting temperature data using the car’s sensors. As the car pulled out of the driveway into the street, it processed visual information about the weather as well (What kind of clouds are in the sky? Is it foggy? Are the streets wet?) and uploaded all of the information to The Weather Channel. Since this neighborhood had been missing this data recently, The Weather Channel paid a relatively large bounty: 50¢.
Coincidentally, a few streets down someone needed to return a laptop to Best Buy. Tesla Network passed the address to the car, and Autopilot began driving to that location. Since Best Buy offered free Robotaxi returns to customers to increase sales, they would cover the cost of renting some trunk space and a ride from the car at a price of $2.50. When the Model Y arrived, it opened its power trunk automatically. After the laptop was placed securely in the trunk’s bottom compartment, the Model Y closed the tailgate and hit the road again.
Next on the job list was picking up a human rider. The request came from an employee at IKEA, which was next door to Best Buy. Instead of buying a car, the employee had a Tesla Network subscprtion that provided discounted rides in exchange for a monthly commitment. This allowed him to get to work and back every day using the Tesla Network at a predictable and affordable price point. The Model Y would be paid $6 for picking him up and taking him to the store, which happened to be on the way anyway. The Tesla Network always tried to assign jobs that were on the way to maximize profitability.
On the way to pick up the IKEA employee, the car started downloading his driver profile to prepare for his arrival. The cabin was set to his preferred temperature, seats were moved into just the position he liked, and the seat heaters were set just the way he liked it. His favorite music and videos were pre-loaded in the background as the car’s UI started rendering them on screen. Even the car’s acceleration characteristics, suspension, and driving style changed to matched his preferences. In just a second, Eve’s car had transformed to match his preferences, just as if it was his own car.
A few blocks down from the pick up spot, there was a new house under construction. The architect had offered $1 a day for a daily photograph of the construction progress. Since one hadn’t been uploaded for that day, the car paused, snapped a photo of the property as seen from the road, and uploaded it to collect the $1 bounty.
The passenger chose to watch a movie during the ride, and drop off was smooth. He decided to tip $1. Then the car headed to Best Buy and parked automatically in the curbside pickup spot. The store already knew the car was coming, and had live updates on its ETA. Moments after it parked an employee walked up to the car with three bags: One with the power strip Eve ordered, and two with orders for other customers. The Tesla would deliver them on the way home for $2.50 each.
As the car’s rear camera saw the Best Buy rep approaching it authenticated the rep against Best Buy’s servers and opened the rear tailgate. Swiftly and efficiently, the runner dropped the three packages in the back and grabbed the return that had been placed in the trunk earlier. As they walked back to the store, the trunk closed automatically behind them. The car then headed home, making two stops on the way to drop off the other Best Buy orders.
As the car closed the garage door behind itself, Eve was notified that the car had returned with her order. Sure enough, when she opened the trunk she found a Best Buy bag with the item she’d ordered. On her way back to her desk, she pulled out her phone to look at the receipt on the Tesla app.
+ 50¢ — The Weather Channel real time data
+ $2.50 — BestBuy Return
+ $1.00 — Construction Photo Upload
+ $7.00 — Ride to IKEA
+ $2.50 — Best Buy Order Drop Off
+ $2.50 — Best Buy Order Drop Off
+ $16.00 — Total Revenue
– Tesla Network Service Fee (30%) — $4.80
– Best Buy Order — $9.99
Total Cost: -$1.21
One dollar and 21 cents has been transfered to your bank account. Thank you for using Tesla Network.
Eve pocketed her phone. Getting paid to shop was nothing new for her. She had spent a lot of money on the car, so any expenses it could offset were greatly appreciated. She didn’t mind sharing her car, but had strict access controls to limit what kind of jobs it would accept and who would be allowed in the car.
After ripping the packaging off the power strip, Eve crawled back under her desk to plug it in. When everything was set up, she got up and banged her head on the desk again. “Motherfucker!”, she screamed. Maybe, she thought, she needed a new desk. She opened the Tesla shopping app and started browsing…
James buckled up into the seat of his Tesla Model S as he prepared to head from San Francisco to San Jose for a haircut. With a tap on the yoke to indicate he was ready, the car automatically jumped out of its parking spot and headed to San Jose. A few minutes into the drive a ride request popped up, with a UI similar to an incoming phone call. The car spoke the request:
“Your friend Anna from social media is requesting a ride to Palo Alto. Would you like to pick her up for $20? Your travel time will be reduced by 7 minutes as picking her up will allow you to use the carpool lane”.
“That’s fine, we can pick her up”, James replied. Instantly, the car adjusted the route with a stop at Anna’s pickup location. The two of them had never met in person, but had been following each other online for years. “Why are you going all the way to San Jose to get your hair cut?”, Anna asked. “Well, they’re the only people who know how to cut my hair right”, James explained. “Okay”, Anna conceded, still confused.
When James got up and looked at his haircut, he nearly screamed. It was the worst haircut he had ever seen in his life. He looked like a complete clown. It looked like part of his eyebrow had been taken off by mistake. He had been so busy thinking about meeting Anna that he hadn’t even noticed how badly the new intern was butchering his haircut.
He sighed as he walked to the cash register. “That will be $14”, the employee at the register mumbled. James pulled out his phone and selected his Tesla Card on Apple Pay. The card was connected to his Tesla Network account, allowing him to access funds from carpooling instantly without having to transfer to a bank account.
“Well”, James comforted himself, “at least the ride down paid for the haircut”. Besides, he liked coming down to the South Bay anyway. As he stepped out of the store, people screamed when they saw his haircut. A cyclist was so shocked they ran head first into a telephone pole and had to be transported to the emergency room.