Tesla has been cautiously rolling out its “Full Self-Driving Beta” system over the past several months. Now, CEO Elon Musk says it will double the number of cars in the system with the coming 8.2 version update, and that it will increase the number of cars sporting the firmware by 10× when version 8.3 comes along — which may be in just 2 to 3 weeks.
Last we heard, on Tesla’s quarterly conference call for shareholders at the end of January, Elon said that nearly 1,000 Tesla owners had the FSD beta activated on their cars. If that hasn’t changed much since then, the simple math is that 10× more than 1,000 is 10,000.
— CleanTechnica (@cleantechnica) March 6, 2021
Beta V8.3 has literally ~1000 improvements. Will take time to QA internally before release probably in two or three weeks.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2021
One tricky thing about this stage of autonomous vehicle development is that, counterintuitively, it can come with more risk than earlier phases. When your car is “too good” at driving itself but not yet perfect, it’s practically impossible to pay attention to the road for the rare instances when it needs you to take over. In fact, NASA discovered years ago that even top-tier engineers could not stay focused on monitoring something if there wasn’t anything to do. With this in mind, Elon has repeatedly emphasized that Tesla owners who get the FSD Beta update need to be extra, extra careful.
I think it would be cool if Tesla could implement some kind of gamification system to make drivers interact with the system to some extent. I know — that defeats the point to some extent, but Tesla is all about gaming and fun, so I’m sure its Jedi engineers could think up some fun solutions. The point is, though, that the software still isn’t perfect and drivers need to find ways to maintain their focus on the road despite FSD taking over ~99% of the time. For now, Tesla is relying on drivers simply paying close attention to what is happening.
I have thought that using the developer visualizations on the touchscreen, as Tesla is doing, makes drivers pay closer attention too. They can better see what is happening, can get a stronger sense that they are part of the development team, and are more drawn into the process than if Tesla used the more polished visualizations in vehicles without FSD Beta — like mine.
The FSD Beta suite can take people from their homes to their favorite stores, workplaces, tennis courts, or Disney World — potentially even without a single intervention on the part of the driver for the whole trip. It is not yet perfect, not yet ready for you to go to sleep or watch a movie while the car drivers itself, but it is getting closer and closer every week. As you can see in Elon’s tweet above, Tesla implemented about 1,000 improvements going from version 8.2 to version 8.3 of FSD Beta. I’m certainly extremely interested in seeing what it can handle in my area! Hopefully we get into the beta on this round of additions.
We’ve written about FSD Beta at length here on CleanTechnica, so rather than do that again to give more context this update, here are some of the most notable recent pieces on the topic:
Tesla AI, both hardware & software, is deeply underestimated
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 5, 2021