Elon Musk Admits Tesla Driver System Won’t Gain Regulatory Approval In 2022

Image credit: Tesla

Not this year. Tesla’s advanced driver assistant software won’t gain regulatory approval in 2022, says Elon Musk

Tesla boss Elon Musk has confirmed that the company’s advanced driver assistant software will not satisfy regulatory authorities – at least for this year.

According to Reuters, Musk during an earnings fall on Wednesday said that the firm’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ (FSD) will not gain regulatory approval in 2022.

Musk has been hyping autonomous self-driving tech for years now, but the reality has not matched the hype. In July this year Andrej Karpathy, who led the development of Tesla’s Autopilot driving assistance system, left the EV maker.

Image credit: Tesla
Image credit: Tesla

Regulatory approval

The comments by Elon Musk on Wednesday indicate Tesla is not yet able to satisfy authorities that its cars can be driven without someone behind the wheel.

Tesla of course 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 its standard “Autopilot” 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 would require 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.

According to Reuters, Musk told the post-earnings call that all FSD users in North America will get an upgraded version at the end of the year.

Musk reportedly added that while its cars are not ready to have no one behind the wheel, drivers would rarely have to touch the controls.

Are we ready for driverless transport?

“The car will be able to take you from your home to your work, your friend’s house, the grocery store without you touching the wheel,” he reportedly said.

“It’s a separate matter as to will it have regulatory approval. It won’t have regulatory approval at that time,” he added.

Musk also said Tesla hopes to provide an update to FSD in 2023 to show regulators that the car is much safer than the average human.

Safety concerns

“Musk is opening the possibility Tesla will have a more difficult path to approval for FSD given heightened NHTSA and other scrutiny,” Craig Irwin, an analyst at Roth Capital was quoted by Reuters as saying.

It is no secret that Tesla is facing challenges with both its ‘Autopilot’ system, as well as its experimental self-driving package known as the ‘Full Self-Driving’ beta system.

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?

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.

Tesla has not helped matters with the naming of its self-driving systems.

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

It came Tesla was ordered in July by a court in Germany to refund a customer over problems with the Autopilot system. The court upheld the woman’s complaint that her car’s Autopilot was defective after a technical report showed the vehicle did not reliably recognise obstacles and would at times activate the brakes unnecessarily.