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Tesla Autopilot in action stopping at a stop sign. Photo by Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica.

Autonomous Vehicles

The Best FSD Beta Testers Tesla Could Get

Tesla has undoubtedly trained employees for the early testing of the next “Full Self Driving” software package release. Their job, as for all software testers, is to get the software functioning to specifications, often focused on one or a few aspects of the software.

The final testing stage is done by the growing group of volunteer beta testers. These are experienced Tesla drivers selected for their expected skill and contributions.

But unless they are traveling salesmen, they probably drive the same routes for their commutes and basic errands everyday. They will just do some extra driving for testing and experiencing the luxury of Full Self Driving (FSD). This is not the same as having the software tested by critical testers that ask the question “Is it fit to do the job?” I have delivered software that got a lot of praise, but in the end was deemed not fit to do the job.

The AI driving the car is also legally the driver. It should obtain a driver’s license like any other driver. The procedure to get it would be a little different. What that procedure should be is up to the legislators of the jurisdictions where it wants to drive. In the EU, that’s 27 jurisdictions with 27 different sets of rules and requirements.

Tesla needs more than the statistic of thousands of times driving the daily commute flawlessly. Tesla needs to know that the AI can handle the trickiest and most unexpected situations better than a human driver can do so. For this task, it should hire a group of specialists that are trained to answer the question “Is this driver ready to participate in traffic without supervision?”

Getting a driving license in many EU countries is much harder than in some (or most/all) states in the USA. European driving license examiners know where to find the trickiest traffic situations and know how a driver should react. They are trained to stay alert for the duration of the exam and know what mistakes are possible and when to take over control.

The practice part of the exam involves driving for over half an hour through the worst traffic the examiner can find. A single mistake is often fatal for getting a license — the candidate can try again in a few months. The candidate’s driving instructor gets a full evaluation and is told what to train better.

Hire a few dozen of these people who retired recently. They can run a real test program and report on the slightest imperfections. They are trained to stay concentrated and pay attention to the driving for half an hour, after which they, like all human people, need a half-hour break. The break can be used to write a report and refresh their minds. About six test drives a day is what they can do.

The advantage of using these trained people is that their testing and evaluation is consistent. Their norms are standardized, as testing norms should be. After a few hundred of these test drives per EU country, Tesla (and the authorities) will know how prepared the FSD AI is for participating in traffic without supervision.

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Written By

Grumpy old man. The best thing I did with my life was raising two kids. Only finished primary education, but when you don’t go to school, you have lots of time to read. I switched from accounting to software development and ended my career as system integrator and architect. My 2007 boss got two electric Lotus Elise cars to show policymakers the future direction of energy and transportation. And I have been looking to replace my diesel cars with electric vehicles ever since. And putting my money where my mouth is, I have bought Tesla shares. Intend to keep them until I can trade them for a Tesla car.


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