The wait is almost over for some Tesla customers to gain access to driver assistance technology that the company controversially marketed – while they are at their best.
Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said Friday that the electric car maker will be releasing an updated version of its beta software, Full Self-Driving, which has only been available to about 2,000 people so far.
Those who have access to this constantly updated software – a mix of Tesla employees and passionate Musk fans – spent almost a year refining a system that the company has charged customers up to $ 10,000 in the future. Tesla says the system, often referred to as FSD, is designed so that one day it can handle both short and long distance trips without driver intervention.
It is unclear how wide the broader release will be , as Musk threw a curveball earlier this month. The CEO tweeted that customers will use the download button on Friday to request permission from car owners to allow Tesla to evaluate their driving behavior for seven days. If the company thinks the behavior is good, it grants access to the FSD beta.
The expanded access and surprise condition is the latest twist with FSD and Autopilot, the driver assistance system that has divided Tesla watchers for years. Musk’s promotion of the perception that Tesla is a leading self-driving company has helped make it the most valuable automaker in the world by far. But others have grappled with what they consider to be the ruthless and misleading approach to deploying technology that is not finished yet. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently launched its second autopilot investigation since 2016.
“This is another example of Tesla marching to its own drum. It’s like fucking torpedoes, full speed ahead, ”Gene Munster, co-founder of investment firm Loup Ventures, said over the phone. “Aside from a few regulatory concerns and setbacks, Tesla is determined to move on with its own agenda.” The NHTSA began investigating autopilot in August after nearly a dozen first-aid vehicle crashes occurred. The regulatory agency, which has the power to view cars as defective and order recalls, evaluates the technologies and methods Tesla uses to monitor, support, and enforce drivers’ commitment to using the autopilot. It also examines the system’s detection of objects and events on the road and how it reacts.
Musk first announced his plan to sell FSD in October 2016, a few months after saying at a tech conference, that he sees autonomous driving as “basically a problem solved”.
In April 2019, he predicted that about a year later, Tesla’s technology would be so advanced that drivers would no longer have to pay attention. </ p However, in March of this year, Musk announced that Tesla had revoked the FSD beta from drivers who didn't pay enough attention to the road.
The new head of the other US auto accident investigator, the National Transportation Safety Board , has outraged with this kind of mixed message.
“Whether Tesla or someone else, it’s the duty of these manufacturers to be honest about what their technology does and doesn’t,” Jennifer Homendy told Bloomberg News in i In her first interview since she was sworn in last month.
Homendy has since described Tesla’s use of the term full self-driving as “misleading and irresponsible” and has expressed concern to the Wall Street Journal about the willingness of FSD to have more drivers To be used on public roads.
“It is terrifying for investors,” said Taylor Ogan, CEO of Boston-based hedge fund Snow Bull Capital, who has sometimes watched videos of FSD beta testers carefully showing the shortcomings of the Demonstrate software. “It’s like the CEO of a pharmaceutical company adding to the testing pool of the experimental drug that the FDA is screening for potentially injurious people.”
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Tara Goddard, a professor of urban planning at Texas A&M University who studies how auto safety technology and automation are being marketed to consumers, wonders if Tesla’s seven-day assessment of driver behavior goes far enough to weed out unsafe users.
She referred to the recent blog post by a Tesla enthusiast giving car owners hints on how the company is likely to judge their driving.
“People are already saying, so play the system to make sure you log in and use it.” use it however you want, ”said Goddard. “I’m just worried that we’ll see an increase in the fact that it is used where it is really not ready for use – and not by professional drivers.”