Fifty years ago, the vision of artificial intelligence (AI) looked more like a sci-fi fantasy. No one predicted the power of AI to involve autonomous vehicles or highly personalized conversation-based communication between humans and machines. Despite the wild advancements we’ve made with AI, many startups still underestimate the abilities or the true applications where AI thrives.

In the webinar Data Science Essentials for Startups: All About AI we looked into the different ways in which AI is being used at Tesla, the electric vehicle, solar, and clean energy company paving the path toward a smarter future.

Most people think of Tesla as an automotive company, but we see them as a robotics and software company that happens to specialize in transportation. They are also one of the most successful companies of our time. In 2020 alone, they sold over 500,000 vehicles and generated $31.5B in revenue.

Their autopilot feature, which we’ll be discussing in this article, has had over 3 billion miles on the ground (and trillions of miles in simulations), making it the most advanced and researched autonomous vehicle on the market. Tesla does this by using the seven AI patterns listed below to create their total user experience:

Autonomous systems

AI is often used to create autonomous systems which can navigate and learn without human involvement. For example, this is the hallmark of the Tesla Autopilot feature – cars are able to drive and even pick up their owners with little-to-no human interaction.

Goal-driven systems

Goal-driven AI is used to test technologies in simulated environments to improve product features or create novel solutions. For example, Tesla uses goal-driven AI to test each of its electric models to prepare vehicle designs for the unpredictable human environment. However, this can be used for testing and training in any environment.


Recognition is another popular use for AI, especially with commonly used technologies such as facial detection or security. For example, Tesla uses recognition AI in their “Sentry Mode” feature, which helps to protect vehicles from theft or damage when the owner is away. It can alert the owner of potential dangers through a livestream camera, and therefore, deters break-ins better than nearly any other car on the market.

Predictive analytics and decisions

Predictive AI is the biggest contributor to innovation and improved decision-making for companies of all kinds. For instance, Tesla uses predictive analytics to enhance route options which can help improve the overall driver experience. Their system also predicts areas of high pedestrian traffic, so that it can help reduce the likelihood of accidents.

Hyper personalization

Hyper personalization has been a hot topic in the news regarding online and social media marketing, but it also has applications in AI. For example, Tesla hyper-personalizes the driving experience by adding driving preferences to seat position, temperature, music, and more. As a result, they build a better car for the individual driver, creating customer loyalty and edging out the competition.

Conversation and human interactions

Most people associate conversation-based AI with products like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but this technology will likely be widespread in the next decade. Tesla incorporates voice commands for features like music, temperature, and route options to make the driving experience hassle-free.

Patterns and anomalies

AI can quickly detect patterns for different data sets, and therefore identify anomalies that can be useful for companies to understand. For example, this has helped Tesla designate parking lots and residential areas as higher risk for pedestrian crossings while maintaining vigilance for anomalies like deer and bicycles on the highways.

Your startup may not utilize every model of AI for your applications, but by understanding the different options, you can build a better product with the data you have. Echelon DS is helping to develop systems in which companies can use AI and big data to accelerate their startup success, without high costs. If you’d like to learn more about what we’re doing with AI, contact us.