Tesla has become a household name as a leader and innovator in the electric vehicle market, but it also manufactures and sells advanced battery and solar panel technology.
As a tech pioneer with a significant interest in the race to build and market self-directed vehicles, it makes sense that today they would be deeply interested in artificial intelligence. However, it was only this month that the business's billionaire founder and CEO Elon Musk publicly declared it is working on its own AI hardware.
This is definitely exciting if not exactly astonishing. Musk, after all, has been opinionated in his views about AI. As well as revolutionizing almost every aspect of society, he has warned that it will cause widespread job losses and possibly even start World War Three.
He is also a co-founder of OpenAI, a research organization devoted to confirming that AI is developed and deployed in a safe, controllable way so as to minimize any existential risk robots may one day pose to humanity.
Not many details have yet been made public about Tesla's new AI, though it is believed it will process the "thinking" algorithms for the company's Autopilot software which currently gives Tesla vehicles limited ("level 2") levels of autonomous driving capability. Musk has said that he believes his cars will be fully autonomous (level 5 autonomous) by 2019.
Tesla has been criticized by some for appearing over-eager to be first to bring autonomous cars onto the roads, in the light of what is being seen as the first fatal accident involving a car which was driving itself.
But as a business decision, it is hoping its pushy tactics will pay off, with experts concluding that the company has trumped its rivals in the data-gathering department. All the vehicles Tesla have ever sold were built with the potential to one day become self-driving, although this fact was not made public until 2014 when a free upgrade was rolled out. This means the company has had a lot more sensors out on the roads gathering data than most of its Detroit or Silicon Valley rivals, many of which are still at the concept stage. Having just launched its first mass-market car, the Model 3 with a price tag of $35,000, the company is expecting the number of its vehicles on the road to increase by almost two thirds to around 650,000 in 2018 and that is a lot of extra sensors.