Tesla’s new Full Self Driving (FSD) Suite has been doing the rounds in the news again. A few days ago, Elon Musk had announced that Tesla is expanding the customer base for the beta program. Apart from that, they also revoked access from some negligent drivers who weren’t paying attention to the road during the beta testing.
Amidst all this, a driver in San Francisco posted a video of using the FSD feature in his car. This was one of the most extreme stress tests the FSD has undertaken. Despite heavy traffic and numerous edge cases, the system managed to safely manoeuvre the car. What’s even more interesting is that the test happened during night time.
Noted Tesla enthusiast “Whole Mars Catalog” posted the entire video of his small trip around the town on Twitter. He took his Model 3 for a drive through a busy part of the town and let the FSD suite handle some of the edge cases for him. Quite frankly, some of the cases would have tested humans as well, but the FSD suite managed to drive in a safe and calm manner.
Craziest FSD video of the night!!! ?
CHESTNUT STREET EXTREME STRESS TEST
I seriously shit my pants when I saw it do this without any interventions! I couldn’t believe it. Jaw on the floor.
This is very bullish ? @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/S3tIlycrbE
— Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) March 14, 2021
There were a number of challenges put forth by the streets of San Francisco, including heavily crowded four-way intersections and pedestrians. The vehicle also had to tackle narrow streets with cars parked on both sides of the road. On one such road, there was heavy incoming traffic as well, and some drivers were parking their cars, while others were pulling out. Amidst all this, the FSD suite managed to calmly handle the situation. It stopped at safe distances from possible dangers, and also kept a check on the speed. During one of the instances, you can see the vehicle slow down because a car pulled out into oncoming traffic. For a moment, it seemed like that vehicle would turn and go across the Model 3, thus justifying the decrease in speed.
The most interesting thing is that none of these edge cases required intervention from the driver. Yes, you can see the driver put his hand on the steering wheel a few times, but that was completely precautionary. Even more interesting is the fact that the vehicle contains an older version of the FSD suite. It isn’t the 8.3 build, which Elon Musk was talking about a few days ago.
The Current Status of Tesla’s FSD Suite
The new suite that Tesla has built and released last October is at Level 2 autonomy. It is, in no way, close to actual self-driving. Tesla always requires the driver’s 100% attention, which means the driver is responsible for his/her own safety, and any incident (hasn’t happened yet) isn’t Tesla’s fault. It is only when Tesla starts taking responsibility that one can say they are close to achieving autonomy.
However, the current system is a very important stepping stone towards fulfiling that goal. The fact that an older version of the suite was able to handle so many edge cases in a very short time bodes well for Tesla. The current version has been rolled out to nearly 2000 people now, doubling the initial base. Musk has also mentioned that the next version will operate on purely computer vision. This will take the system closer to real-world AI, according to the Tesla CEO.
It won’t be bold to predict that this system could go on to reach full autonomy. There are a lot of steps Tesla has to take for that, and it’ll take a lot of time as well. But it doesn’t seem impossible. Tesla has called it an advanced driver-assist system, but it definitely has the potential to become completely autonomous.
Tesla is already collecting a ton of data from the sensors and cameras through this beta program. There are so many instances of the FSD suite completing difficult tasks with considerable ease. There was also a report of a no-intervention drive using FSD from San Franciso to Los Angeles.
Of course, all this is looking very positive because there haven’t been any incidents. Any small accident is going to push Tesla back again for sure. But no one can deny that they have taken a lot of effort into building this new system.