October 15th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
On Monday, I wrote an article trying to summarize and put in order various updates from Tesla/Elon Musk regarding the coming Tesla Autopilot update, which is basically the rollout of the remainder of the Full Self Driving (FSD) package. I’ll try to explain that package a little further on the bottom of this piece since it’s actually something we seldom explain in detail, and since some people are new to this topic every day. The primary purpose of this article, though, is simply to laugh at the flood of responses that followed after Elon responded to my article with this statement: “Limited FSD beta releasing on Tuesday next week, as promised. This will, at first, be limited to a small number of people who are expert & careful drivers.”
Limited FSD beta releasing on Tuesday next week, as promised. This will, at first, be limited to a small number of people who are expert & careful drivers.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 12, 2020
Clearly, many Tesla owners are eager for the FSD features. The cost today to purchase the package is $8,000. I paid $6,000 a little more than a year ago for it when buying our Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus. I’ve gotten some awesome new features since purchasing it (hence Tesla’s justification for two $1,000 price increases in that time), but there’s no doubt about it: I and many others are practically drooling thinking about door-to-door (or parking space–to–parking space) FSD capability, and most of us want to get the update as soon as possible. So, when Elon said “a small number of people who are expert & careful drivers” would get first dibs, claims of nearly perfect driving (and other things) rolled in. Here are my favorites:
I’m a carefull driver 🙂 pick me! pic.twitter.com/nme7Xf83A3
— Professeur Tournesol (@sjoerd87777991) October 12, 2020
I’m careful!!! pic.twitter.com/Z9KxngUwd5
— 🐶Earl of Earlcantara🐶 (@28delayslater) October 12, 2020
I am expert and careful driver, pick me!!! pic.twitter.com/tqf7GQwZGZ
— Jakub Kudlacz (@JakubKudlacz) October 12, 2020
You won’t find more careful than me 🤪 pic.twitter.com/SG6Kmh2tz7
— TeslaStars ✨ (@TeslaStars) October 12, 2020
Please pick FSD owners from all over the US for the early access beta release. That way, the bugs and potentially several edge cases can be sorted out before the wide release. I volunteer from Boston. 🙋 pic.twitter.com/UdSNjvhjkA
— Praveen Kalavai (@PraveenKalavai) October 12, 2020
So, me then? Or does my continuous testing of the limits of the system actually make me a risky driver? 🤔
But seriously, will this be US only? Or also in Europe?
— Steven Peeters (@aikisteve) October 12, 2020
Great news! Are you tempting us to drive perfectly under the speed limit? 😆👏✨
— K10✨✌️😘 (@Kristennetten) October 12, 2020
Elon Musk: “…people who are expert & careful drivers.”
Every Tesla driver ever: “That’s me! He’s talking about me!”
Me: “That’s definitely me, though…”
— The Tech of Tech (@TheTechofTech) October 12, 2020
It’s happening ! pic.twitter.com/fV27FPEdYl
— ® APH Æ L (@ElectricRaph) October 12, 2020
My driving style is actually more chill than Chill Mode, so there would be no sense in me switching it on.
Like bridling a tortoise.
— James Stephenson (@ICannot_Enough) October 12, 2020
I’ll sign and respect the NDA, am not a Youtuber, am a safe driver and a senior business technology person (used to testing new products).
Put me in, coach!
— Ron Kerensky (@ron_kerensky) October 12, 2020
Elon, please add me to the beta, I promise I will keep everything confidential and provide you excellent feedback. I love FSD! I need to do more meaningful things in my life. Please and thank you! ✌️
— Yasir Ahmad (@future_yas) October 12, 2020
“I need to do more meaningful things in my life.”
😀 😀 😀
Happy to be included, thanks!😉
— Carole Lachance (@carolelucky) October 12, 2020
Please put me on the list. Trust me i’m an engineer.
— Johan Teekens (@johanteekens) October 13, 2020
You mean not meant for the jackasses filming themselves in the rear seat sleeping to post it on YouTube with a click bait title “beta testing sleeping mode in my FSD Tesla that burned a red light while there was a current outage.”
— Max G (@MaxMDFRCSC) October 12, 2020
How do I get on that list? I’m a roboticist working on AMRs, helped build the robot testing program at iRobot, I’m a trained race car driver, former race car mechanic, have a clean driving record with a CDL, and I drive 90 miles per day.
— Jason Walker (@ImRobotMechanic) October 12, 2020
— Alexander Szeto (@alexanderszeto) October 12, 2020
Those last couple look pretty convincing.
The somewhat confusing thing about Tesla Full Self Driving for longtime followers and owners is that some features have been shuffled around between simple “Autopilot,” “Enhanced Autopilot,” and “Full Self Driving” over the years. The other thing that can be confusing is that whether you have the basic “Autopilot” package or the “Full Self Driving” package, what you do while driving in order to use the features is simply turn on Autopilot.
However, if ordering a new Tesla, the details are super clear. If you don’t buy the “Full Self Driving,” you can get autosteer and what is more widely known as adaptive cruise control. If you do buy the “Full Self Driving” package, you get these extra features:
- Auto Lane Change: automatic lane changes while driving on the highway.
- Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control: assisted stops at traffic controlled intersections.
- Autopark: both parallel and perpendicular spaces.
- Navigate on Autopilot: automatic driving from highway on-ramp to off-ramp including interchanges and overtaking slower cars. (Yes, this really works.)
- Summon: your parked car will come find you anywhere in a parking lot. Really.
Additionally, under an “Upcoming” subheading, it’s noted that you will eventually get “Autosteer on city streets.”
I presume the coming update will allow your car to turn by itself, but that’s actually not certain. That feature, as well as the car automatically avoiding potholes and navigating parking lots on its own, will be implemented at some point, but we don’t know the actual timeframe for specific features. I think avoiding potholes and auto-navigating parking lots will come much later (maybe months later), but I do expect the next software update to include the ability to put a destination into your navigation and then closely supervise your car as it drives there on all public roads, even taking turns on its own as needed if the intersection/turn is not too challenging.
What “Full Self Driving” can not do yet, which will take a lot longer, is drive by itself without supervision. Even if you are driving with Autopilot every day and it does great, it needs close human supervision. There are edged cases where it will make the wrong decision, or where it will not realize it needs to make a decision at all, and your human eyes and brain will need to be on the road with hands and feet ready to take over.
Of course, I haven’t tested out the much improved new FSD capability, so I don’t know yet if it will seem like a minor, incremental improvement over today’s Autopilot, or if it will feel like dramatic, revolutionary step change. But everything I’m seeing from Elon Musk on this topic implies to me that cars with FSD will get their day in the sun soon and will surprise many a fan and many a critic with their capability. We’ll see.
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