Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta Open To All North American Drivers

Tesla boss Elon Musk has opened that company’s advanced self-driving beta program to all customers in North America who want it.

This a notable development, as until now, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta had been limited to Tesla drivers with a high safety score.

Last month Elon Musk had said that FSD would not gain regulatory approval this year – but he is hoping to provide an update to FSD in 2023 to show regulators the technology is much safer than the average human driver.

Musk had been hoping to deliver this upgrade before the end of the year.

Image credit: Tesla

Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta

Tesla sells the $15,000 “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) software add-on, which enables its vehicles to change lanes and park autonomously.

This is a step beyond Tesla’s standard “Autopilot” driver assistance feature, which steers, enables accelerates and brakes cars within their lanes without driver intervention.

However, both systems still need to be driven with human oversight and a completely autonomous vehicle requires regulatory approval.

And this seems to be a long way off considering the numerous examples of people abusing and misusing the self-driving technology found in Tesla EVs.

Since the responsibility currently rests with the driver and not Tesla’s system, FSD is still considered a level-two driver-assist system, despite its name.

Are we ready for driverless transport?

For the last six months, there have been over 100,000 Tesla owners in the FSD program, but on Thursday this week Musk announced the FSD Beta would be available to every owner who bought FSD Beta in North America by the end of the year.

This means that Tesla drivers in North America who don’t have a high safety score, can now use the system – providing they can afford it.

Regulatory issues

Tesla is currently under investigation by the US Department of Justice over claims that the company’s electric vehicles can drive themselves, Reuters reported in October.

In September California’s state transportation regulator accused Tesla of false advertising since the features do not provide full autonomous vehicle control.

In June this year the Federal vehicle safety regulator in the US (NHTSA) said it was upgrading its investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot driving assistance system – the step taken before the agency determines a recall.

Tesla vehicles have accounted for nearly 70 percent of reported crashes involving advanced driver-assistance systems since June 2021, according to recent federal figures, but officials warned against drawing any safety conclusions.

NHTSA has opened 38 special investigations into crashes involving Tesla vehicles that have resulted in 19 deaths, looking at whether the software was a factor.

Over hyped?

It is no secret that Musk has aggressively hyped Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD for years now.

In late 2016 Musk reportedly promised Tesla fans a self-driving car that’s capable of driving from Los Angeles to New York without “the need for a single touch” by the end of 2017.

Then in 2019, Musk raised billions of dollars for Tesla by promising investors the company would have 1 million “robotaxi ready” cars on the road by the end of 2020.

In July 2020, Elon Musk said that Tesla was “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology.

Level 5 is the holy grail of autonomous driving technology, as level 5 vehicles will not require human intervention, and need for a human drivers is eliminated.

Indeed, it is said that level 5 cars won’t even need to have steering wheels or acceleration/braking pedals.

These cars will be free from geofencing, and will be able to drive anywhere, and do anything that normal car with a human driver can do.

Tesla cars currently operate at a level-two, which requires the driver to remain alert and ready to act, with hands on the wheel.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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