Tesla could use SpaceX to manage massive amount of self-driving car data

Key Points
  • Tesla could use SpaceX's broadband network to securely manage the massive amounts of data needed for shared and autonomous vehicles.
  • Tesla in turn could be a good captive customer for SpaceX.
Elon Musk
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Tesla could use a broadband network developed by SpaceX to securely handle the massive amount of data needed to manage autonomous cars, says one analyst.

Autonomous cars produce and consume extremely large amounts of data, said Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas in a note sent Friday. He estimates self-driving vehicles can produce 40 terabytes of data in an hour, for example. Today's self-driving vehicles transmit about 500 times the amount of data as a typical smartphone contract.

"How will Tesla manage such a large quantity of data?" Jonas said. "In our opinion, leveraging the broadband network provided by its very own sister company seems like a plausible answer."

In turn, Tesla could be a "captive customer" for SpaceX, which is developing the broadband network using satellites.

Tesla declined to comment on the note.

Whether or not Tesla will be able to achieve full self-driving technology is still an open question. However, it is already equipping every car it makes with hardware CEO Elon Musk says is sufficient for full autonomy, and Musk has said cars will eventually be capable of fully self-driving through software upgrades.