Tesla will offer a limited number of "expert and careful" drivers a beta of its long-awaited Full Self-Driving capability in Autopilot next Tuesday, according to Tesla chief Elon Musk. As usual, Musk teased the Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta release in a tweet. Musk's announcement indicates that Tesla will make good on his promise at the automaker's September Battery Day event to deliver the system in a "month or so". "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 and careful drivers," wrote Musk.
At its surreal Battery Day event in September, Tesla said it planned to release a private beta of its long-awaited Full Self-Driving (FSD) software in "a month or so." Now we have an exact release date (via Roadshow). Responding to a tweet from CleanTechnica, CEO Elon Musk said the limited beta will start rolling out on Tuesday, October 20th. "This will, at first, be limited to a small number of people who are expert and careful drivers." Musk didn't elaborate on how the company will go about deciding who to invite to the beta.
In the automotive industry, Tesla is a leader in many respects--but it's hardly head-and-shoulders above the rest when it comes to self-driving cars. The Silicon Valley automaker is developing fully autonomous cars, but it's part of a crowded field that includes many other automakers and a handful of rich tech companies as well. Still, Tesla's technical approach may give it an advantage over its numerous competitors. DON'T MISS: Let's be clear: Tesla's Autopilot is not a'self-driving car' The company has now collected a huge trove of operating data from customer cars running Tesla's Autopilot driver-assist system. Autopilot does not provide fully autonomous driving at present, but since Tesla began installing the system in its electric cars in late 2015, the system has delivered data on 1.3 billion miles of driving, according to Bloomberg.
The six-month federal investigation into a fatal accident involving a Tesla using its semi-autonomous Autopilot system has done more than exonerate the automaker. It provides the first federal evaluation of Autopilot as well as some insight into how Tesla designed and developed it. And while these insights are an important validation of Tesla's technology (more on that below), in a way they're already outdated. As of October, new Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles are equipped with what the company calls Hardware 2--a more robust suite of sensors, cameras, and radar and software that will enable them to (eventually) drive autonomously--without human intervention. The important word here is eventually.
Once the update arrives, Tesla vehicles will be able to drive themselves in a city the way they can perform highway cruising now, the company said. That means interpreting stop signs and traffic lights, making sharp turns, and navigating stop-and-go urban traffic and other obstacles -- a far more difficult task than navigating long, relatively straight stretches of highways. Although Tesla's website has promised features as soon as this year including the ability to recognize and react to traffic lights and stop signs, and what it calls "Automatic driving on city streets," the suite would still require a human driver behind the wheel. As soon as next year, Tesla has said, the cars will be able to operate reliably on their own, even allowing the driver to fall asleep. This tiered approach is different from companies such as Waymo, whose sole aim is to launch autonomous vehicles that do not need a driver behind the wheel.