It all started with a tweet.
I guess that could start many chapters in the Book of Tesla.
Less than an hour ago, Elon Musk sent out a simple but enthusiastic tweet: “Tesla AI/Autopilot engineering is awesome! Making excellent progress solving real-world AI.”
Naturally, the response of many Tesla owners who bought the Full Self-Driving (FSD) software suite was more or less the same: “When we get the button, yo?!?!” This refers to Elon’s tweet on March 6 that Tesla would open up the FSD Beta to everyone in the US who bought the FSD package via a “Download Beta” button in ~10 days (i.e., around March 16).
We don’t yet have that button, so those of us who have the FSD package and have been following along have basically been hoping every day since March 16 that a software update will pop up that will give us the Download Beta button. Many owners respond to Elon Musk tweets about other topics just asking about the button. Naturally, a standalone tweet about the AI/Autopilot team made a ton of owners ask about the button, and some even speculated that he was automatically blocking tweets that included the word “button.”
Naturally, the headline of this article could have easily been that Tesla FSD Beta will be coming to US owners next month or that FSD subscriptions will be coming next month, but aside from the fact that Elon soon clarified that the May target is aspirational, I thought the most interesting thing in the tweet thread was actually the part I highlighted in the headline above.
Tesla could push out the Download Beta button right now if it wanted to and the FSD features would be dramatically better for people like me than they are now. (Right now, the only thing that I really find useful that’s not part of the standard Autopilot package is the automatic lane change function.) However, there’s also a risk that some people will think the software is better than it is, or will try some funky (and dangerous) shenanigans with it. The note that Tesla is “trying to get probability of no injury above 99.999999% of miles for city driving” before releasing it is practically saying that Tesla is aiming to get the capability to Level 4 or Level 5 autonomous driving capability, as I see it. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Of course, I don’t expect Tesla to call it Level 4 or Level 5 autonomous driving at that point, because 1) Tesla will want people to be careful, 2) changing from Level 2 to Level 4 or Level 5 publicly probably shifts liability to Tesla rather than the driver (or at least gets a bit murky in that regard), and 3) Tesla surely wants to see what pops up when it opens up the features to a ton more drivers, and then fix those issues as quickly as possible.
As we all know, the target of May is after the target of March 16, and there were much earlier targets for these features before Tesla ran into challenges getting close to 99.999999% and decided to do a full FSD code rewrite. So, I think anyone like me eagerly waiting for this button is being cautious with regards to the May goal. But, well, the system seems to be getting much better fast! At least, that’s what I hear. … 😢
Also noted in this tweetstorm is that Tesla will probably hold its next AI Day in late July.
Additionally, Elon has not forgotten about poor Europe, where Tesla drivers have even less capability in their Autopilot buckets than I have. He noted in response to someone who highlighted this issue that Tesla will hopefully have the issue addressed in the summer, at which point Tesla owners there will get more of the features we ‘Muricans get.
That’s all of the fresh new tweets on that topic for now, but Elon seems to still be on Twitter, so I’ll either update this article or write another one if he keeps commenting on Tesla FSD/Autopilot/AI in the coming minutes or hours. In the meantime, what do you think about these updates?
Check out our full Tesla Full Self-Driving archives for more on this topic.
- Tesla Autopilot Innovation Comes From Team Of ~300 Jedi Engineers — Interview With Elon Musk
- Elon Musk Shares A Bit More Detail About Tesla FSD’s Pure Vision
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