John, president of the Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley, took Sandy and president of Munro & Associates Cory Steuben on a ride around town through normal traffic. For those who haven’t been paying attention to the development of Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD), Tesla has deployed the solution to around 1,000 early testers now, with regular updates being pushed out to them every couple of days.
John chaperoned his Tesla Model X, driving a complex route that took them through city streets with numerous lane changes, a left turn, and street lights with apparent finesse. Much like the current Autopilot solution does, the Full Self Driving beta requires the driver to occasionally provide some steering pressure every so often to confirm they still have their hands on the wheel.
“Look how confidently it’s driving,” Cory noted from the back seat. I wonder if we will all be relegated to back seat driving when Full Self Driving is complete? I sure hope so.
Throughout the trip, Sandy couldn’t keep himself from lavishing the solution with compliments. “This is perfect!” “This drives like me!” “I love this!” “Right off the bat, I’m really impressed.”
The Full Self Driving beta solution completely transforms the way the vehicle operates, with the vehicle navigating from the start of the trip to the finish. There are a few small caveats that make it clear Tesla is still ironing out some of the kinks in the latest bottom-up build of the solution, including the inability to perform a U-turn and navigate in parking lots as part of a trip.
At the end of the ride, Sandy shared his thoughts on the overall experience and it’s clear he was impressed. “My best hope was less than what I just saw. I’m pretty excited about what I just saw. I’m an aggressive driver and this drives aggressively,” Sandy said. “This is going to save a lot of time for people that are commuting and whatnot, where you have tourists and people that need to get to work in the same time frame.”
Tesla continues to rapidly innovate, thanks in large part to the testing of this core group of public beta testers. 11 updates have been pushed out to beta drivers since FSD beta was first pushed out to the public beta testers. Speculation as to when the solution will be deployed to a wider audience is runs rampant, with Elon understandably avoiding any commitments to a completion date.
For most people in the world, the prospect of a vehicle that can navigate a trip from start to finish still feels like something from science fiction movies, but thanks to Elon Musk and the team at Tesla, it’s looking more and more like a solution we might actually get to enjoy in our lifetimes.
My personal hope is that it is deployed and widely available before my two boys (ages 9 and 11 today) start to drive. I don’t need any excuses to grow any more grey hair than I already have. I’m optimistic about the future.
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