Lucy Pulls Back the Tesla FSD Football Again

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It’s been a couple of years since many of us first expected our cars would be getting “feature complete” Full Self-Driving. In 2018 when I bought my Model 3 and the first half of 2019, the plan was by the end of 2019. After several hurdles, code rewrites, and changes in what hardware to use (“vision only” is now the plan), we’re getting closer. However, we’ve got more cases of Tesla “pulling back the football” like Lucy always used to do to Charlie Brown. Let’s catch up on a few of these.

  • Tesla: Everyone who bought Full Self Driving (FSD) will get a button to download FSD Beta.
    • (Several months later …) Here’s the button, but, actually, we’re going to score your driving first to make sure you are a safe driver.
  • Tesla: We will release feature-complete software next Friday.
    • No, actually, we really meant a week from Friday.
  • Tesla: Everyone who got a perfect score will get to download the ‘Feature Complete’ software.
    • Me: Wait, really?
  • Tesla: A score of 99 or 98 is not good enough!
    • Me: Really? Anyone who has taken a college test knows that 99 or 98 is an A+. I’m not good enough for FSD Beta just because Autopilot was too aggressive, I touched the brake pedal a couple of times, and another driver cut in front of me?

How can you play a game when you don’t know the rules? Learn as you play.

After one day, I figured out how to get a score of 100:

  1. Don’t let the Tesla AI software control the braking or turning off the car, as it exceeds the sensitivity of the test.
  2. Do all stops on mild regenerative braking and don’t take any turns faster than the recommended speed on the turn signs.
  3. Don’t use smart cruise control when there is any chance of phantom braking (e.g., from someone walking on the side of the road or a large truck parked on the side of the road).
  4. Stay at least 3 seconds behind the car in front or you are following too closely, and watch out for people cutting in front of you and gifting you an “Unsafe Following” deduction.
  5. Don’t pass another car, or you will be dinged for following too close.

If I had known the way the test results would be used as they are, I would have obeyed the above rules and only driven 10 miles every day. Unfortunately, I actually use my car for transportation, not just test taking. For example, yesterday I drove 309 miles and got a score of 98. It’s very hard to drive that far and get a perfect score.

I got 100 for 7 out of the 13 days I took the test. Except for day one, I got a 97 or 98 the other five days.

I have a friend in Utah who owns a Model 3 Performance and drives on 12-lane Interstate I-15 on the Wasatch front. As hard as he tries, he can’t get his score much above 90. I guess I won’t personally complain too much if Tesla includes those of us with scores of 98 and 99 very soon.

However, it seems to me that everyone who has a test score of 90 or better should get the “Feature Complete” software now. Also, those who got lower scores should be allowed to take the test again now that we know the rules. After all, we did pay $6,000 to $10,000 for the privilege.

Or did Lucy just pull back the football again?

You can see from the photo of my combined test score in the screenshot above that I got 98. See below my explanation of each subtraction.

  1. I lost points (1.2 average) on Forward Collision Warning on the first day, which activated when someone was walking beside the road. I was very careful and took a wide path around them, but I was on smart cruise and the car automatically braked sharply anyway.
  2. I lost points on Hard Braking (0.9%) from the situation described above.
  3. I lost points on Aggressive Turning (0.6%) the first day when I let Autopilot take me around a curve.
  4. I lost points on Unsafe Following (44.5%) when I passed a slow moving car.
  5. I didn’t lose any points for Forced Autopilot Disengagements.
Daily Details where I also happened to get a score of 98. This is the 13th day that I have taken the test. Note: I drove 309 miles this day. The scores don’t seem to be adjusted enough for the number of miles driven. It is really hard to get a perfect score when you drive this far.

In the above day, I lost points for Hard Braking (1.1%) across 309 miles because I misjudged one stop sign and had to add a little brake pedal in addition to the mild regenerative braking. On that topic of system sensitivity, also see: “Tesla’s Safety Score Algorithm Is **Extremely** Sensitive” and “How To Get A Tesla Safety Score Of 100.”

Featured photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0 license)

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Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler

Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler, PhD, former leader of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization & Analysis Laboratory (creator of this iconic image), and avid CleanTechnica reader. Also: Research Meteorologist (Emeritus) at NASA GSFC, Adjunct Professor at Viterbo University On-Line Studies, PSIA L2 Certified Alpine Ski Instructor at Brighton Utah Ski School.

Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler has 111 posts and counting. See all posts by Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler