Tesla had announced last week that they are expanding the driver base for the Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta program. Elon Musk took to Twitter yesterday to announce that the program is now available to nearly 2000 people. Initially, Tesla had released the beta version to around 1000 people. Apart from that, Musk also stated that the company has removed the feature for some drivers who weren’t paying attention to the road while using the self-driving feature.
Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Suite
Tesla had announced that they would be launching the beta version of their new FSD suite in October. For once, the launch happened exactly according to the timeline. This was an important step towards setting up a RoboTaxi service, which is one of Musk’s visions. Following the initial launch, there were a lot of positive reactions from the customers who were selected by Tesla for the beta program. A few people encountered some bugs, but Tesla was quick to work them out. Apparently, Tesla was collecting a lot of data from the sensors on these beta vehicles.
This FSD update was a complete rebuild, and Musk had said that they have built it from scratch. Of course, despite being able to completely control the vehicle, Tesla specifically instructed customers to keep their eyes on the road at all times. But it was still a big step towards achieving full autonomy. Using Autopilot’s highway-driving and Tesla’s driver-assist features, it is able to control the vehicle through city roads and intersections.
Tesla owners using the FSD beta are able to give the car a destination and the vehicle will attempt to drive them there autonomously with the driver keeping their hands on the steering wheel and ready to take over. There were some great results as well, such as confusing roads which challenge the system.
The Latest Update
Musk confirmed today that the program has been expanded to about 2,000 owners. He also said that Tesla has revoked access from some drivers. The CEO confirmed that Tesla used its driver-facing camera to monitor driver attention in the beta program. It is still unclear as to how they will tackle people who have paid for using the features.
In another major announcement, Musk said that Tesla is attempting to use a system completely based on computer vision. They will try to minimize the use of radar technology, trying to bring the system as close to real-world AI as possible. This release will happen in April most probably.
Next significant release will be in April. Going with pure vision — not even using radar. This is the way to real-world AI.
Tesla is going to give more people access to the beta program through a new “download beta” button in the vehicle user interface for people who purchased the Full Self-Driving package. Tesla will add the button later this month.
According to Musk, the program which has been doubled right now will be expanded 10 times in the next update. This next update will most probably be the one in April. There could be an issue with the customers who have been revoked of their access in this update. When exactly will they give access back to these owners?
While I agree it's important to enforce driver attention, this is going to be controversial since these owners paid for FSD. What's Tesla plan? To only release FSD to those owners when out of beta? When responsibility shifts to Tesla? I'd like to know. https://t.co/hc5ZiE01Ye
— Fred Lambert (@FredericLambert) March 13, 2021
There is speculation that this program will stay in the “Beta” form until Tesla achieves complete autonomy. If Tesla revoked access for these owners for being irresponsible, they will give it back only when the ball is out of their court. That could take time, and these owners have paid for this feature. It is a tricky situation for sure.
The beta program has been moving at a good pace until now. With no accidents yet, Tesla has managed to put their foot in. Now, they are expanding the testing base and also trying out newer things. Purely computer vision-based technology will pace the way for a more robust system. All in all, this feature is moving along nicely, but Tesla needs to sidestep some of these landmines such as access withdrawal.