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.
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 last month Elon Musk said “the 3 am oil is being burned” to get the next iteration of FSD Beta out.
And today, all that hard work has paid off and Tesla has started releasing FSD Beta 10.69 to its fleet of vehicles. The release note for FSD Beta lists all the improvements Tesla has made over the last couple of months. And some of the improvements Tesla lists are…
- Improved decision-making for unprotected left turns using better estimation of ego’s interaction with other objects through the maneuver.
- Improved stopping pose while yielding for crossing objects at “Chuck Cook style” unprotected left turns by utilizing the median safety regions.
- Made speed profile more comfortable when creeping for visibility, to allow for smoother stops when protecting for potentially occluded objects.
- Enabled creeping for visibility at any intersection where objects might cross ego’s path, regardless of the presence of traffic controls.
You can read the full list of improvements in the Whole Mars Catalog tweet embedded below.
But, one improvement worthy of further explanation is “improved stopping pose while yielding for crossing objects at “Chuck Cook style” unprotected left turns by utilizing the median safety regions.”
If you happen to be unfamiliar, Chuck Cook is a YouTuber and FSD Beta tester who has been meticulously recording and sharing FSD Beta’s improvements in various scenarios.
And “Chuck Cook style unprotected left turn” is a wide highway intersection with multiple lanes. When making this left turn, the vehicle needs to make a left turn navigating across traffic going as fast as 60mph.
Due to the width and speed at which vehicles are driving on the highway, making an unprotected left turn at this particular stretch of the road requires the vehicle to traverse oncoming traffic from left to right; stop at the wide highway divider; then wait for the traffic going from right to left to clear, and finally make the left turn.
In previous iterations of FSD Beta, since the vehicle could not stop in the middle of the highway at the divider, then FSD Beta had to wait for traffic coming from both directions to clear before making the turn.
To better understand the situation, you can watch Chuck Cook’s video embedded below showcasing said road and how FSD Beta 10.12 handled the situation.
However,=/. after receiving FSD Beta 10.69, Chuck Cook has gone back to the same stretch of road and FSD Beta can now handle the intersection flawlessly.
On FSD Beta 10.69, Tesla has added a new autopilot visualization where a blue line shows how much the vehicle can creep forward to get a better view of incoming traffic. In addition to the new visualization, the software now, when dealing with Chuck Cook style unprotected left turn, can stop at the highway divider, wait for traffic to clear, and complete the turn.
You can watch Chuck Cook’s FSD Beta 10.69 test video embedded below to get a better understanding of how the software has improved.
All the improvements coming with FSD Beta 10.69 make it a great milestone for Tesla’s effort to create a level 5 full self-driving software. Elon Musk also seems to agree with the importance of FSD Beta 10.69 and all the work the Tesla team has put in to make it a reality.
After the software was released to the initial 1000 testers, Elon Musk praised the Tesla team saying “just wanted to emphasize again that our awesome Tesla software/AI team is who really deserves the credit. The talent level at Tesla is incredible.”
Glad it’s working out! Thanks for giving us this tough case to solve. That’s what field testing is all about.This early version of 10.69 is being extra cautious, so waits for a moderately big gap in traffic to cross. Upcoming releases will do better in heavy traffic.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 21, 2022
Just wanted to emphasize again that our awesome Tesla software/AI team is who really deserves the credit. The talent level at Tesla is incredible.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 21, 2022
Having said that, despite all the improvements coming with FSD Beta 10.69, not everyone is reporting getting a great experience with the new version of the software. One such individual, who let out his frustration with FSD 10.69 is James Locke.
Locke is part of Tesla’s Early Access FSD Beta testers and is one of 1000 lucky individuals who currently have access to FSD Beta 10.69. And Locke describing his experience wrote on Twitter saying “unfortunately I have to say I'm still having to intervene to correct #FSDBeta 10.69 in my area. Still lots of work to go. I know this is probably not a popular opinion but the focusing on the "Chuck" complex left is getting ahead of the needs of some more basic control issues.”
Musk, however, after reading Locke’s take on FSD Beta 10.69 was unimpressed and in response wrote “10.69 is in limited release for a reason. Please do not ask to be included in early beta releases and then complain.”
10.69 is in limited release for a reason. Please do not ask to be included in early beta releases and then complain.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 23, 2022
This is a somewhat harsh response by Musk, especially to an individual who has a long track record of supporting the EV maker’s various endeavors be it as an investor or FSD Beta tester.
However, Musk’s frustration here appears to come from a misunderstanding by the public of limited release Beta software. As Tesla’s AI team makes major changes to the software, a lot of new capabilities get added; however, given all the new changes, there will inevitably be a lot of bugs.
And Musk appears to be frustrated by the fact that FSD Beta 10.69 is being judged according to the early bugs. Lucky for everyone Tesla is already working on FSD Beta 10.69.2 and when that version of the software gets released hopefully most of the bugs will be sorted out by then.
We will keep you posted once Tesla releases FSD Beta 10.69.2 to the public. Until then, make sure to visit our site torquenews.com/Tesla regularly for the latest updates.
So what do you think? Do you agree with Musk’s response to the FSD Beta 10.69 criticism? Also, how long do you think it will take Tesla to solve level 5 autonomy? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Image: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
For more information check out: Tesla Model Y and Model 3 With LFP Battery After 43,000 Miles
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.