October 2021 – The Full Self-Driving update, aka FSD Beta, has been underway since late last year, allowing a small set of Beta testers to experience the future of Autopilot on city streets. Now Tesla has finally released software update (2021.32.22) that allows anyone who purchased Full Self-Driving (FSD) to request access to the FSD Beta program. The catch? You have to be a good driver.
Now we’ve also learned through a series of Tweets from Elon Musk that the program will roll out to approximately 1,000 new testers starting Friday, October 11th.
FSD Beta Request Button
On September 24th Tesla released the 2021.32.22 software update that included a new button for those who purchased the Full Self-Driving package and have compatible vehicles with Hardware 3. Those customers had a new “Request Full Self-Driving Beta” button under Controls > Autopilot.
For those interested in joining the FSD Beta program, you’ll need to agree to allow Tesla to monitor your driving and calculate a safety score.
Tesla will monitor your driving behavior for at least seven days.
Tesla will begin adding approximately 1,000 testers per day:
Likely starting October 11th:
Once you sign up to the program, your Tesla app will show you how you’re doing so you can improve (iPhone only for now):
If you participate, be sure to read the Tesla Safety Score Beta information posted on their website to understand exactly what they’re tracking and how it works.
- Keep a good amount of following distance (especially above 50 MPH)
- Brake gently, ideally just using regenerative braking.
- Keep an eye out for anything ahead on the road to avoid Forward Collision Warnings
- Don’t make aggressive turns.
Note that driving on Autopilot will not be included in safety score calculations but the miles driven will be included in the total, according to Tesla. This means that you may want to use Autopilot on the freeway, especially if you have a hard time maintaining following distances to other cars.
After at least seven days of good driving, you’ll be eligible to join the FSD Beta program. It’s still unclear whether that will happen immediately after the seven days or whether they will gradually add people to the program over time (guess the latter).
Where Tesla Drivers Have the Most Issues
According to the Tesla Safety Score data in the app, most people have problems in the following areas:
- Unsafe Following – 15%
- Aggressive Turning – 3%
- Hard Braking – 2%
- Forward Collision Warnings – 10 per 1,000 miles
So be sure to leave lots of room between you and the car in front of you when traveling greater than 50 MPH. Per Tesla:
Beta Tester Videos
In the meantime, check out the myriad of videos being uploaded to YouTube on a daily basis or the ones highlighted below.
Here’s a good overview of the current state in the form of a ‘training video’:
FSD Beta Overview
Tesla’s Full Self-Driving option has long held the promise of being able to automatically navigate with Autopilot on any road, including city streets; even so far as becoming a Level 5 (see What do Levels Mean?), fully autonomous system. Customers who have spent thousands of dollars for the expensive Full Self-Driving package expecting city street Autopilot are also eagerly awaiting this functionality.
That said, it’s been a long road to achieving autonomous driving as navigating on any open road under any condition, is one of the most complex tasks for any AI system to handle. Originally Elon Musk targeted a fully autonomous trip from Los Angeles to New York in 2017, only to drop that goal altogether later on. Then, Full Self-Driving was targeted to be “feature-complete” by the end of 2019, only to move the timeline further out.
Eventually, we learned that Tesla was doing a major overhaul of the AI-based Autopilot system, a “rewrite”, so-to-speak. In late 2020, this rewrite, known as “Full Self-Driving Beta” (or FSD Beta), started rolling out to a small select group of testers with a likely broader release in 2021 or early 2022. While the Full Self-Driving package will have the ability to automatically turn on city streets, despite its name, it will not be fully autonomous (Level 5), and will still require an attentive driver for the foreseeable future.
Full Self-Driving Rewrite Creates 4D Environment
At the heart of the new Full Self-Driving rewrite is the capability for the neural network computer to utilize all eight cameras around the car, allowing it to create a virtual 3D (4D with time) environment for better situational awareness.
Full Self-Driving on City Streets
Creating this 3D model (4D with time) is especially critical for navigating city streets since that environment is far more complex than freeway driving. It will allow the vehicle to make complex maneuvers as mentioned by Tesla in the Beta release notes:
“When Full Self-Driving 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.“
That said, because this is a software rewrite and the entire system needs to be tested, not only the new features, early beta testers are being warned to be extra vigilant:
“Full Self-Driving is in early limited access beta and must be used with additional caution. It may do the wrong thing 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.“
Early Look at Full Self-Driving Beta
Early beta testers have already shown off some of the functionality. Here are some videos of the latest features:
As you can see, this is still very early release testing software, likely still a long way off from public release, but has impressive capabilities.
FSD Rapid Updates
The team at Tesla appears to be making rapid progress, releasing updates to Beta testers every 5 to 10 days, according to Elon Musk, so improvements should come quickly.
Full Self-Driving Rewrite Release
While the Full Self-Driving update still appears to be a little ways off, it’s great to see real progress being made. That said, it’s important to remember that “Full Self-Driving” still very much requires an attentive driver and is not a “Level 5” fully autonomous driving system, despite the name. However, it’s great that Tesla continues to push the envelope in this area and provide exciting new Autopilot updates and finally bring significant new assisted driving functionality to those who purchased the Full Self-Driving package. We’re excited to see what the future holds!