Tesla releases early ‘Full Self-Driving’ mode with strict warning

Tesla has begun to roll out the ‘beta’ version of a ‘Full Self-Driving’ (FSD) mode for its cars – but it comes with some significant caveats.

The software, which is now being trialled by a select number of ‘expert and careful’ drivers in the US, is said to enable Tesla drivers to “make lane changes off highway, select forks to follow your navigation route, navigate around other vehicles and objects, and make left and right turns”.

However, a notice that accompanied the update, shared by a Twitter user, warns that the software may have some teething problems. It says users must “not become complacent” as the beta “may do the wrong thing at the worst time”. Drivers are therefore advised to “always keep [their] hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road.”

They should, it continues, “use Full-Self Driving in limited Beta only if you will pay constant attention to the road, and be prepared to act immediately, especially around blind corners, crossing intersections, and in narrow driving situations.”

Tesla has yet to specify a date for the roll-out of the finished FSD programme, but judging from CEO Elon Musk’s recent tweet that the update will be “extremely slow and cautious, as it should”, drivers shouldn’t expect the software any time soon.

This is especially true in European countries and Australia, which have stricter regulations for self-driving cars than the US. Tesla’s self-driving software cannot legally be used in this country under current rules.

The new FSD mode will be downloaded as an update for Tesla’s current software, which allows Teslas to automatically change lanes on motorways, auto park and ‘find’ the driver in car parks. To pre-empt the update, Tesla will add $2000 (around AUD$2,800) to the cost of current software in the US, taking the Autopilot option to $10,000 (around AUD$14,000).

Tesla’s current ‘self-driving’ package recently came under fire when a German court ruled that its name – Tesla refers to the package as ‘Autopilot’ – was “misleading for consumers”.

Tesla has now been banned from using terms such as ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ to describe the current version of its autonomous software in Germany.

Will Trinkwon

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