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After 8 Months Elon Musk Agrees To Enable FSD Beta On NHTSA’s In-House Tesla Test Vehicle

Tesla's FSD Beta software is rapidly progressing towards becoming a level 5 fully self-driving software. However, as the AI's capabilities grow, so has scrutiny by regulatory agencies. And today, an 8-month-old message sent by the NHTSA to Tesla asking to be included in the FSD Beta program has surfaced. After a long wait, Musk has finally agreed to turn on FSD Beta on the regulatory agency's in-house test Tesla vehicle.


If you have been living under a rock, in late 2020, Tesla released the next generation of the company’s full self-driving software called FSD Beta.

This software version is a significant architectural rewrite of Tesla’s Autopilot software and unlike previous iterations of Autopilot, requires merging all images coming from 8 cameras into a vector space that the vehicle uses to execute driving in the real world.

In simple terms, the new software creates a representation of the real world by piecing together images coming from the 8 cameras, and the vehicle uses this virtual representation of the real world to make driving decisions.

The new approach has allowed Tesla to enable vehicles to tackle more complex driving settings such as surface streets, roundabouts, and unprotected left turns, which are currently impossible for Tesla’s previous Autopilot software.

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Tesla initially released FSD Beta to the 3000 or so individuals in the company’s Early Access Program. However, that number has currently grown to more than 100,000 vehicles and Elon Musk has recently said by the end of this year FSD Beta will be running on 1 million Teslas.

Since FSD Beta’s initial rollout in late 2020, the software has seen several upgrades which have improved the smoothness and capabilities of the self-driving software.

Tesla’s last FSD update was FSD Beta 10.12. This iteration of FSD Beta was released at the end of May and has brought with it several improvements getting Tesla one step closer to the goal of having the software completely take over the driving task.

Having said that, FSD Beta 10.12 is still far from a level 5 fully autonomous solution and the software still needs a lot of work to make it fully self-driving.

And a few weeks back Elon Musk had said “the 3 am oil is being burned” to get the next iteration of FSD Beta (FSD Beta 10.69) out. After several delays, FSD Beta 10.69 is expected to be released on August 20.

This FSD iteration, among other things, is expected to significantly improve the software’s capability in dealing with Chuck Cook Style unprotected left turns.

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FSD Beta 10.69 will surely be exciting, however, as FSD Beta’s capabilities and reach have grown, so has the number of critics and regulatory probes.

And today, an email sent by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to Tesla was shared on Twitter.

The NHTSA’s message which was sent back in January reads…

As you know, NHTSA owns a Tesla vehicle with the FSD option. The VIN is 5YJSA1E21GF. And the vehicle is running firmware version 2021.44.30.8.

With over 700 miles of driving this year and a safety score of 99 (including a score of 100 for the most recent 107 miles on Jan 21), we have not received the OTA update to fully enable FSD in our vehicle.

We request some of your time and expertise to assess our situation and help us understand what additional steps we might need to take.

It’s not exactly clear why Tesla has taken this long to let the NHTSA into the FSD Beta program; however, after a long 8 months wait, Elon Musk has finally responded to the NHTSA and has agreed to turn on FSD Beta on the regulatory agency’s in-house Tesla test vehicle.

In classic Musk fashion, his NHTSA response was not sent in some official message to the regulatory agency but rather simply as a Twitter post writing “ok we’ll turn on” preceded by a laughing emoji.

As of now, it is not exactly clear how allowing the NHTSA into the FSD Beta program will affect Tesla and the company’s efforts to develop a level 5 fully autonomous self-driving software. However, we will be sure to keep you posted once more information comes out.

Until then, make sure to visit our site regularly for the latest updates.

So what do you think? Should Tesla have waited this long to allow the NHTSA into the FSD Beta program? Also, how do you think it will affect the software’s development going forward? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

For more information check out: Tesla Quietly Made Key Changes In Storage: Megapack XL Stores 50% More Energy, While Becoming Bigger And Heavier

Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.