Tesla officially launched its new full self-driving (FSD) program yesterday to a handful of customers for beta testing, and the first reactions to it are extremely positive. The customers who got to be a part of this beta testing were carefully selected by Tesla, as “cautious and expert drivers”. The feature was made available through an OTA update to the customers, and it uses the pre-existing camera and radar sensor arrangement for environment perception, unlike other brands that use Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors primarily. Musk has vocally opposed the use of LiDAR, saying that it is unnecessarily expensive, and he now has a batch of beta testers to back his claim.
Tesla New Full Self-Driving First Reactions
Twitter is currently flooded with huge amounts of praise for Tesla, with many people calling this a revolutionary move for moving towards fully autonomous transportation. Many people have posted videos of their car being driven along the streets, making turns at intersections, stopping at red signals, and even navigating across traffic. The excited squeals in the background more or less give an indication of the first reaction of this new FSD suite.
Tesla has made it clear that they will be proceeding with extreme caution when it comes to the launch of this new product. They also mentioned that this is a completely rewritten code, worked all the way up from scratch, and includes a fundamental rewrite of the neural networks and control algorithms. Having released this beta version to a handful of customers, they are looking to continue collecting data over time and make the system more robust. Of course, currently, Tesla has warned all customers that the “hands on the wheel and eyes on the road” instruction is still in place until a large sample set of these test drives is complete.
I’ve got it too Bitchessssssss!!! pic.twitter.com/uIRuAF06Ei
— Gabriel – (@tesla_addicted) October 22, 2020
Once you put your vehicle into Full Self-Driving mode, it will make lane changes off-highway, select forks in the road programmed to follow your navigation route, and also navigate around other vehicles and objects on the road. This includes making left and right turns at intersections without any steering input, which was a point in many videos where the customers got excited the most.
Wow here is a left turn and it safely went through the light. This is bettaaaaa people and it’s amazing. @elonmusk you savage, you have created a life hack and you have accomplished fsd. @tesla_raj pic.twitter.com/L8dPC6PhpU
— Tesla Owners Silicon Valley (@teslaownersSV) October 22, 2020
One of the videos by the Tesla Owners Silicon Valley saw four people sitting inside the car, and reviewing the new features in this update. The car started on its own according to the selected navigation route, and as it approached an intersection, it slowed down to the required speed, stopped at the intersection to check for cars incoming from all directions, and carefully maneuvered the car across the turn. The passengers were cautious at first, as the road they had turned onto did not have pre-marked lanes, but the vehicle expertly navigated itself through the ongoing traffic, and even accelerated to match the speed limit after spotting ample of space in front of it. It was at this time that the passengers went crazy, clearly amazed at the piece of technology that was doing its job in front of their eyes.
This is absolutely incredible what is coming with the FSD BETA! @Tesla gave me the OK to post this on social media. One day soon we will be having self driving cars… so excited to be part of this movement! ❤️ This is part of the development UI and not final release..sneak peek! pic.twitter.com/vSnkw1rFKa
— Brandonee916 (@brandonee916) October 22, 2020
Another video saw the Tesla follow a car in front, and on approaching the intersection, stop at a safe distance behind the car in front, and then detect the green light going off, and make a left turn with significant ease. The screen in the center console shows objects being detected as the car drives around the streets, using the camera and radar setup, which was termed as insufficient by the Self-Driving Coalition, as reported by us yesterday. It even detects the shoulder of the road that it is driving on and also detects its width quite accurately.
The Future Awaits
With a limited beta testing version launched, Tesla is looking to go worldwide with this launch, and it could happen as early as the end of this year. Musk stated “We’re starting very slow and very cautiously because the world is a very complex and messy place.” Having put the first version on the roads, there are now looking to release it to more and more people, maybe this weekend, maybe next week. (We all know how decisive Musk can get.) He did mention that Tesla can hopefully aim for a wide release by the end of this year.
The current crop of beta testers will be helping Tesla gather more and more data, which will obviously help improve performance by utilizing the neural network that they are using. It is somewhat similar to how the Google search engine works – the more questions you ask it, the more it tweaks its algorithm to give you better results the next time. Similarly, the cars that are utilizing the full self-driving program right now will make the software more accurate with every mile driven. This Neural Net has already received information from over 3 billion miles of Autopilot-assisted driving.
Of course, this self-driving suite is just the beginning. Tesla, and especially Elon Musk, has always had the vision of a RoboTaxi fleet, which will basically be a “zero human intervention cab service”. Having had a phenomenal year in the market, Tesla is setting itself up for the biggest year in the company’s history. With the production numbers showing that they are poised to produce 1 million vehicles a year, the increased manufacturing rate will only help Tesla, as more vehicles on the road will gather more data and make the autonomous system even more robust.
All these projections are based on the first impression of this new full self-driving suite. While this is just the beginning, Tesla will be hoping to go through this beta testing period unscathed from any incidents. For now, we can just applaud Tesla, for they have, not for the first time, managed to create a really good product.