First of all, a note on how Tesla rolls out software updates for its cars: The updates roll out in waves, but before any “normal owners” get the updates, some people in the “Early Access” program get to test the updated software for a while. The Early Access people who get the updates ahead of others (the process is sort of complicated, don’t ask) may have the updated software for days, weeks, or even months before others get it. The idea is for Tesla to check for bugs and refine it before putting the software in cars where the owners didn’t agree to essentially be a software feature tester.
Now, a brief note on Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” suite: Tesla’s vehicles cannot drive you from your front door to Target on their own. However, they can come pretty close to that. They don’t yet leave a parking space on their own after you put a destination in. You can “summon” them out of a parking space with your phone app in a couple of ways, but you have to engage with the car via the phone to do so. Also, the car won’t make turns on its own. If you put on “Navigate on Autopilot,” the car will drive you from onramp to offramp of a major highway (i.e., Interstate) on its own, but it won’t yet drive itself around traffic on roads with lights and proper turns.
The latest update of the Full Self Driving suite added the ability for the car to recognize stop signs and lights and automatically stop for you (if you have Autopilot on). However, probably the biggest disappointment for owners when getting this exciting new feature was that the car would stop for all lights, including green ones, not just red and yellow lights. It’s not exactly relaxing to have to tell the car at every green light to go through it, even if it is still a bit exciting due to the clear option that’s around the corner.
Rumor is, Tesla is going to remove the requirement to tell the car to go through a green light in the next software update. Or, more precisely, the rumor is that it’s going to soon update the software for some Early Access drivers to do this. (Update: This is not a rumor at this point, as it has been confirmed with photos of the software update description and also the sign of approval from Tesla CEO Elon Musk.)
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 19, 2020
BREAKING! Got it from a very reliable source very very close to ME, next update coming in for EA is no more Green light traffic confirmation with a lead vehicle infront. All I can say now.
— GasOff (@GasOff2) June 18, 2020
— 🔋 TeslaOwnersofMA 🔋 (@TeslaOwnersofMA) June 19, 2020
Simply put, Tesla vehicles will be able to drive through green lights on their own in coming months or weeks.
The next steps after that to get to full Full Self Driving (if that makes sense) are:
- The car takes turns on its own.
- The car drives from a road through a parking lot to a parking space on its own (and vice versa).
- The car does #2 and then parks on its own.
There are surely other necessary updates — like going through roundabouts, which is reportedly coming very soon as well — but the above three updates would be the big three to finish out the Full Self Driving software suite as many of us imagine it.
I could put my destination, whether it be the beach or Disney World, into the navigation system. The car would show the route it’s going to take. Upon confirmation that I’m ready to go, the car would drive me out of my parking space, through the parking lot, to a local road, and then make all turns and decisions to drive through lights or not on its own.
It feels like we’re almost there. However, there are still many edge cases and I can’t say I’m super duper confident that Tesla vehicles will soon-ish be granted the ability to make turns on its own, let alone drive through parking lots without my finger pressing down on the app. I may be wrong, but it’s just hard to imagine updates 1–3 being implemented anytime in the coming year.
As soon as we get genuine confirmation that Tesla vehicles (Early Access ones at least) get the ability to drive through green lights 100% on their own, we’ll be sure to let you know. It will be an exciting day! It is sure to also make many people nervous, and I can picture the headlines across major media sites now. The tech will have to be flawless, which would be significantly better than humans. Keep in mind that many an accident happens in an intersection.
If you’re curious about Tesla Model 3 ownership, peruse our Tesla Model 3 long-term review articles from several Model 3 owners, including myself.
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