Tesla first started working on fully self-driving vehicles back in 2014. At the time, Elon Musk said by 2017, a Tesla vehicle would be able to drive from Los Angeles to New York fully autonomously. However, years have elapsed since Musk’s promise, and we have yet to see a Tesla make the cross-country trip without any human intervention.
According to Musk, the main reason for the delay was that he made the 2014 prediction based on the rate of improvement he was seeing in Tesla’s autopilot software. However, Musk later admitted the improvements started to tail off, and the autopilot software as designed by Tesla had reached a local maximum.
This means it became apparent to Tesla that no matter how much training data the EV maker added to the autopilot AI, it will not deliver level 5 autonomy. After realizing this, Musk assembled a new autopilot software and hardware team and did a fundamental architectural rewrite of the full self-driving software.
In October 2020, Tesla released the new autopilot software to 2000 or so Tesla drivers in the company’s Early Access Program. Since then, Tesla has been improving the new autopilot software, now called FSD beta, and currently, the software is deployed on 160,000 Tesla vehicles in the United States and Canada.
In August 2022 Tesla released the latest major FSD update, FSD Beta 10.69. This iteration of FSD Beta has brought with it several improvements getting Tesla one step closer to the goal of having the software completely take over the driving task.
Tesla is also in the final stages of working on a new and major FSD Beta update which will be called FSD Beta V11. One significant area the current iteration of FSD Beta could improve is on the highways. This improvement has less to do with functionality but rather with the fundamental software architecture the vehicle uses to navigate highways.
On highways, Tesla still uses the pre-FSD Beta iteration of autopilot that doesn’t use all 8 cameras to create a vector space and heavily relies on manually written codes as opposed to AI to make driving decisions.
FSD Beta V11 on the other hand will integrate the new autopilot architecture for all driving scenarios. However, before FSD Beta V11 is even released, Tesla has decided to open the floodgates and allow any Tesla owner in North America who purchased the full self-driving option to download FSD Beta 10.69.
This announcement came as a tweet by Elon Musk who wrote on Twitter “Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta is now available to anyone in North America who requests it from the car screen, assuming you have bought this option.” Musk then continued to praise the Tesla autopilot engineers writing “congrats to Tesla Autopilot/AI team on achieving a major milestone!”
Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta is now available to anyone in North America who requests it from the car screen, assuming you have bought this option. Congrats to Tesla Autopilot/AI team on achieving a major milestone!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2022
This is indeed a huge milestone in Tesla’s history and means now over 1 million Tesla owners in North America will have access to the most advanced publicly available self-driving software in the world.
Financially it’s also great for Tesla as the EV maker will now be able to recognize more than a billion dollars in FSD revenue in its balance sheet. This is money already paid to Tesla by owners who bought the FSD option, however, due to accounting rules and the fact that Tesla hasn’t released this functionality, the EV maker hasn’t been able to recognize it as revenue.
This is all and good but, FSD Beta 10.69 is still far from a level 5 fully autonomous solution and work still remains to make the software as capable as a human driver. However, the Tesla AI team is working hard to make this dream a reality, and we will be sure to keep you posted as Tesla makes progress in the full self-driving arena.
Until then, make sure to visit our site torquenews.com/Tesla regularly for the latest updates.
Image: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
So what do you think? Excited that FSD Beta is now available to any eligible Tesla in North America? Also, how long do you think it will take Tesla to make FSD a fully self-driving system? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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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