People look at a Tesla Model Y car at a Tesla showroom in Beijing on January 5, 2021.
Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images
Tesla released a new version of its experimental driver assistance software, which it has dubbed Full Self-Driving Beta 10.2, according to an email the company sent to eligible car owners on Monday.
FSD Beta provides early access to new features that Tesla is still working on, such as “autosteer on city streets,” which enables drivers to navigate around complex urban environments without moving the steering wheel with their own hands.
The prototype technology, like Tesla’s standard driver assistance system, Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving premium driver assistance package, doesn’t actually make Tesla vehicles autonomous.
In an email to customers inviting them to download the newest beta, Tesla warned, “Full Self-Driving is in limited early access Beta and must be used with additional caution. It may do the wrong thing and at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road.”
In 2019, Tesla raised $2.7 billion from sales of stock and convertible bonds after telling shareholders that autonomy would lift the company to a $500 billion market cap. The company also claimed that Tesla vehicles would increase in value as self-driving capabilities are added through software updates, making them worth up to $250,000 within three years.
Tesla’s market cap surpassed $500 billion late last year, but the company has yet to deliver a driverless vehicle.
The National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are both investigating Tesla to see if the company’s driver assistance features contributed to or caused crashes, including some with fatalities. Other accidents involved Tesla cars, with Autopilot features engaged, smashing into parked first responder vehicles on the side of the road.
NTSB has specifically called out Tesla’s FSD Beta program for exploiting a lack of federal regulation and conducting testing on public roads that could pose a risk to drivers, other motorists, passengers or pedestrians.
The latest release of FSD Beta arrived a few days later than Tesla CEO Elon Musk originally planned. On Oct, 9, Musk wrote the following on Twitter, “A few last minute concerns about this build. Release likely on Sunday or Monday. Sorry for the delay.” He did not specify the nature of Tesla’s concerns about the technology.
To get access to the FSD Beta program, drivers must own Tesla vehicles with newer hardware, and must purchase or subscribe to the premium FSD package, which costs $10,000 up front in the U.S., or $199 a month. The company revealed earlier this year that it had about 2,000 users of FSD Beta.
To determine who should get access to the latest 10.2 version of FSD Beta, Tesla used an insurance calculator that it created to give drivers a “safety score.” Those who scored 100 out of 100 possible points in a week of driving at least 100 miles were sent invitations to download and start testing the new FSD Beta.
Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., arrives at court during the SolarCity trial in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
During the Tesla 2021 annual shareholder meeting last week, an attendee asked Musk his safety score.
He said he didn’t know, and added:
“By the way, our safety score calculation is obviously imperfect. That’s why we try to emphasize very much that it is beta, if not alpha in safety score calculation. So, it’s going to get a lot of changes – yes, expect it to improve in its accuracy substantially over time. This is really just – it’s a very early stage algorithm.”
This week’s FSD Beta update was also pushed to some of the company’s existing FSD Beta users who had gained access before the company introduced safety scores.
In the past, when Tesla invited owners to participate in its FSD Beta Early Access Program, the company included stark admonitions to keep their experiences of the system private.
In an agreement that Tesla sent to drivers earlier this year for FSD Beta access, the company asked them to “keep your experiences in the program confidential” and not to “share any information about this program with the public” including by taking screenshots, creating blog posts, or posting to social media sites.
Tesla named Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube as sites where owners should not share info about their use of FSD Beta, according to a copy of the full agreement obtained by CNBC.
Vice previously reported on the confidentiality requirements.
In that same agreement, Tesla also specified that participating owners should not use their cars for Uber, Lyft, Turo, Scoop and other ride- or vehicle-sharing services while enrolled. And Tesla warned users that downloading FSD Beta would mean they may not be able to revert to prior versions of their FSD software.
This week, Tesla appears to have skipped the lengthy legal agreement. Here’s what Tesla told some drivers when it invited them to the latest beta:
To: Undisclosed Recipients
Subj: Tesla | Full Self-Driving (Beta V10.2)
Date: October 11, 2021
We will be pushing FSD Beta version 10.2 (2021.32.25) to your vehicle shortly!
Full Self-Driving is in limited early access Beta and must be used with additional caution. It may do the wrong thing and at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road.
Do not become complacent. When Full Self-Driving Beta is enabled, your vehicle will make lane changes off highway, select forks to follow your navigation route, navigate around other vehicles and objects, and make left and right turns. Use Full Self-Driving Beta only if you will pay constant attention to the road, and be prepared to act immediately, especially around blind corners, crossing intersections and in narrow driving situations.
Every driver is responsible for remaining alert and active when using Autopilot and must be prepared to take action at any time.
As part of receiving FSD Beta, your vehicle has automatically opted into VIN associated telemetry sharing with Tesla, including Autopilot usage data, images and/or video. If you wish to be removed from the limited early access FSD Beta please email [redacted]
Your vehicle is running on Tesla Vision! Note that Tesla Vision also includes some temporary limitations, as noted below:
Follow distance is limited to 2-7.
Autopilot top speed is 80 mph.
How to provide feedback:
Press the Video Record button the top bar UI to send an Autopilot Snapshot video clip.
Clips are automatically sent to the engineering team. You will not be able to view the clip.
You can email your feedback to [redacted]
In your email please include date, time, location and if you took an Autopilot Snapshot. This helps us investigate issues, and better understand your feedback.
The Tesla Team