Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) software may go public before July, Elon Musk said on Twitter on Wednesday (US time). Tesla released its FSD beta program in late 2020, and when it is released publicly it is expected to allow a Tesla car to drive with almost no interventions – although a driver must pay attention at all times. It currently costs $10,500 in Australia, where most pieces to the FSD puzzle are now active including auto lane changes, navigating on and off highways, auto-parking and summoning in carparks. Automatic driving on city streets is the final piece. “Any update on a timeline for when public FSD will come out? Possibly Q2?” asked a follower on Twitter.
“Sounds about right, but we want to be very careful with this transition period,” replied Musk. The autonomous beta software has reportedly come along in leaps and bounds since it was released to a small number of drivers in California in last October. Musk says that the latest software build “normally” has no interventions, which can reasonably be taken to mean on te usual routes driven by his vehicle. But, he says, the next build – version 9 – will be a “step change” beyond the latest version. “FSD beta build V8.1 normally drives me around with no interventions. Next version is a big step change beyond that,” he said.
“Tesla is solving a major part of real-world AI. This is not widely known,” said Musk, referring to the ability to factor in “edge cases” by gathering large amounts of real-world data from its drivers instead of from simulated environments. Recent videos taken by FSD beta drivers, such as this one from “Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley”, show how the FSD beta software navigates unexpected, complex road obstacles. In this video, the Tesla car turns left and dodges am out-of-place construction cone (otherwise known as a witch’s hat) in the middle of road work.
Another video by “Whole Mars Catalog” claims that although both Google’s Waymo and Tesla’s FSD can now both complete the same route with no disengagements, the Tesla vehicle did it more quickly. Before a full public release is made available to those who have paid extra for the fully-autonomous package (noting that actual driverless rides require regulatory approval), the beta program will be offered to more drivers. “Yes, beta will be offered much more widely when version 9 is done, hopefully next month,” said Musk.
After the public rollout, it is expected that FSD will then be offered via a subscription status.