Update March 2018: Tesla brings back the Full Self-Driving option and folds Enhanced Autopilot features into it. Read the 2019 Autopilot Update article here.
October 20, 2018 – Due to the confusion of offering an option for its cars that technically was not yet functional. Tesla has removed the “Full Self-Driving Capability” option from its online design studio as of 2018. Previously, drivers had the option of buying the full self-driving package for between $3,000 and $5,000, but now only the Enhanced Autopilot package is available for purchase to the tune of $5,000.
Controversial Option and Removal
The full self-driving option was controversial from the very beginning when it was debuted in 2016 with the Autopilot 2.0 software. The company said that it would eventually update the software over the air to give their cars self-driving capability. At the time, it said that it needed regulatory approval and software validation, but that the cars would be able to drive themselves by 2017. Two years later, the self-driving feature did not come to fruition and Tesla’s move to delete it entirely as a purchase option speaks to a lack of confidence that it will be available anytime soon.
Tesla On Autopilot
The Autopilot designation on Tesla cars has been fraught with controversy. As of 2018, Tesla cars are not anywhere near capable of actual full self-driving, leading to confusion and regulatory inquiries of a name that promises potentially more than can be currently delivered. The cars can only self-drive in very specific situations and even then only with driver supervision. In fact, the German government to ask Tesla to stop using the term in 2016. A poll in 2018 appeared to confirm this confusion with one in ten drivers saying that they would be tempted to take a nap while using the car on Autopilot. According to the Tesla guidelines for using Autopilot, drivers need to keep their hands on the wheel in case the car’s AI needs to give control back to the driver.
That said, with the Version 9 software update, Enhanced Autopilot is gaining features that start to bring it closer to full self-driving. At least on freeways.