After many delays, Tesla’s autonomous driving package will soon see the light of day.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Monday the company will launch its next-gen Full Self Driving (FSD) set of features to “a small number of people who are expert & careful drivers.”
The beta will become available on Tuesday, Oct. 20, Musk said.
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
Last week, Musk commented on Waymo’s self-driving capabilities, calling it “a highly specialized solution.”
“The Tesla approach is a general solution. The latest build is capable of zero intervention drives,” he wrote, adding that the limited beta was coming “in a few weeks.”
Waymo is impressive, but a highly specialized solution. The Tesla approach is a general solution. The latest build is capable of zero intervention drives. Will release limited beta in a few weeks.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 8, 2020
And last month, Musk elaborated on the changes FSD will bring, calling them “profound.”
“The FSD improvement will come as a quantum leap, because it’s a fundamental architectural rewrite, not an incremental tweak,” he said.
Musk has been talking about FSD a lot in the past couple of years, calling it an investment in the future that will become far more valuable once fully autonomous cars get regulatory approval. However, Musk was overly optimistic about when that will happen; at one point he said that self-driving Teslas will be allowed on the roads by the end of 2019, which hasn’t happened.
The details on the “beta” version that will become available to select drivers next week are slim, but Musk is talking about driving with zero interventions (in August he said “almost zero interventions”), meaning drivers should be able to let their Tesla drive itself while monitoring it and keeping their hands on the wheel.
Tesla buyers can dish out an extra $8,000 for FSD right now (the price has been steadily increasing over the years), but they won’t get autonomous driving right away. Instead, FSD (as available to the wider public right now) has semi-autonomous driving features such as automatic highway driving, lane changes, and parking, as well as the ability to summon a car in a parking lot and assisted stops at traffic-controlled intersections.
A notice on Tesla’s website warns drivers that the “currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” However, the notice says that “as these self-driving features evolve, your car will be continuously upgraded through over-the-air software updates.”