On December 1, 2021, I passed Tesla’s safety test and was able to download FSD Beta V.10.5 to my car. Since then, I’ve downloaded three updates to the software: V10.8, V10.10 and just now V10.11.2. I use the software every day. The longer I use it, the more I can observe whether negative behavior is a unique event, a rare event, or a consistent failure.
The $64,000 question is: Is FSD Beta getting better? Short answer: I have observed several areas of improvement, but other areas where it is definitely worse. The rest of the article is an updated description of capabilities, improvements and new faults from my previous articles. Key changes since the firmware upgrade are in the section “What Are FSD Beta’s Faults, Including New Ones Observed with V10.11.2?” Any updates related to V10.11.2 start in bold.
What Will FSD Beta Do?
For some routes, it will drive you from your current location to the destination you enter into the navigation without intervention. For others, it will require a slight intervention or two. For times with high traffic volume and routes with stop signs and/or rotaries, you will want to intervene at predictable moments. The most common intervention is to give a slight touch on the accelerator to signal the system to go ahead when it is too timid at a rotary or stop sign. The system will then proceed straight ahead or steer the vehicle around the corner correctly as defined by the navigation you chose.
What Does It Cost?
In 2019, Tesla charged $6,000 for FSD. The price of FSD gradually went up after that. If you want it now, you must pay $12,000. Elon Musk says the price will keep going up as FSD gets better. If that is too big a pill to swallow for an unknown capability, Tesla also lets you try out FSD Beta as a monthly subscription for $99 or $199 per month, depending on the level of driver assist you have already paid for.
You Finally Got It, How Do You Keep It?
You are allowed only 5 forced Autopilot disengagements before Tesla will disable the software. FSD Beta limits you to 80 mph, if you force a higher speed with the accelerator, you will get a forced disengagement. If you don’t keep slight torque on the steering wheel for a few minutes, you will get a forced disengagement. There is a camera just below the mirror watching you. If you look at the screen to your right or look down at your phone for more than ~20 seconds, you will get an audible and visual warning. I assume that if you persist, you will get a forced disengagement. You will know you had a disengagement because access to FSD will be canceled until you stop the car and put it into park. I have one forced disengagement. I was told that I have used one out of 5 allowed disengagements, but I was never informed of my infraction. My wife also uses FSD Beta frequently on my Model 3, so I pray that she doesn’t get any forced disengagements.
What Does FSD Beta Do Well?
- It is fully automatic and performs very well at stoplights and turn signal lights. It performs much better stopping correctly at stoplights than the old FSD.
- With FSD Beta V10.5, your car creeps forward so slowly that it’s not useful for normal driving. With V10.8 and later, the behavior at one-way or two-way stop signs is much improved. It may be a little cautious for your taste, but it’s now OK. Also, you always have the option to signal it to proceed faster with the accelerator. It will then proceed straight ahead or steer the turn correctly depending on your navigation route. With all versions of FSD Beta, the car stops at the entry to a rotary even when no cars are present. Again, a little pressure on the accelerator solves the problem. Ironically, the behavior at 4-way stops is generally better and it proceeds more quickly. I think this is because it doesn’t have to look out for cross traffic.
- With V10.8 and later, the car no longer brakes for a vehicle crossing your path that will be gone by the time you arrive.
- Your car will go around a vehicle, bicyclist, pedestrian, or other object extending partially into your lane if it is safe to do so.
- Automatic Speed Control: With regular Smart-cruise, your speed would reduce to the speed limit when entering a town. With FSD Beta, your speed will also automatically increase to the speed limit when leaving a town.
- When FSD Beta is first engaged, you will need to manually raise the max speed to the speed limit, but afterwards, the max speed will adjust up or down as the speed limit changes.
- With FSD Beta engaged, you can usually set the speed for more than 5 mph over the speed limit if desired.
- FSD Beta will usually put you into the correct turn lane (left, straight, or right). I have included this behavior last because too often FSD Beta will put you in the wrong lane and may cause you to turn or go straight ahead when this is not on your route.
What Are FSD Beta’s Faults, Including New Ones Observed with V10.11.2?
Phantom Braking (Worse!)
You can be driving on perfectly clear Interstate highway and FSD Beta will occasionally perform mild braking for no apparent reason. Sometimes you will get this mild braking for a large vehicle approaching on a two-lane road or a large vehicle or trailer parked near your lane.
I’ve never had hard braking, and I keep my foot lightly on the accelerator so that I can compensate for unwanted braking.
Phantom braking is worse with FSD Beta than it was with standard smart cruise. I assume this occurs because the software is now looking for objects in your lane and it sometimes misidentifies them. I now frequently experience phantom braking on a narrow winding road.
Phantom Swerving: (Worse!)
If phantom braking was not bad enough, with V10.11.2 you may also get phantom swerving. You can be driving down a perfectly clear two-lane road and the car will swerve as though it is trying to avoid a non-existent object. It may swerve into the oncoming lane, but only if there is no oncoming traffic. I have observed this behavior twice. [Editor’s note: I had phantom swerving a couple of days ago in the brief time I tested V10.11.2. I was on a straight 4-lane divided highway — two lanes in each direction and a large median in the middle — and it was completely empty on my side of the median, in front of me and behind me as far as the eye could see. The car suddenly swerved dramatically for no clear reason, going from the right lane into the left lane and actually toward the median. It seemed as though it would drive into the curb of the median, but I assume it would have found a way to jerk and jar me without doing so if I hadn’t taken over myself as a result of the phantom swerving. — Zach Shahan]
Where Does FSD Beta Fail Completely?
Note: The failures are consistent, so I know when to disable the software and drive manually. Some failures may be caused by errors in the database. However, in item #1 below, it can see the stop signs — which I know because they are visualized for me — but apparently doesn’t use the visual distance information to calculate position accurately.
- At some stop signs, it will stop 10 or 15 feet too early. (Observed also with V10.11.2.)
- There is one stop sign turning from 1650 W onto Snow Canyon Parkway in Saint George, Utah, where FSD Beta will always run the stop sign. Oh my! Note: this is the only stop sign where I have seen this behavior. (Confirmed with V10.11.2.)
- Right Lane Bias: Exiting from I-15 at 1600 N in Orem, Utah, 1600 N Street narrows from two lanes to one lane at a stoplight. FSD Beta will consistently not just fail to make the merge but will actively put the car in the wrong (right hand) turn lane. I have now also seen the same behavior at other locations.
- Right Lane Bias: When making a turn or going across an intersection, your car will sometimes turn into a bike lane or other wide lane on the right. It will usually find the correct land after ~50 ft. A driver following you won’t know what to expect.
- Right Side Bias: Particularly on a freeway merge when the lane is still double width, your car will cling to the white line on the right. This is unnerving because a normal driver will tend toward the left-hand dotted white line where you need to be when the merge is complete. Note: This also occurs with regular Autosteer.
- Parking Lot Behavior: You can engage FSD Beta in a Walmart or UPS parking lot, but good luck having it actually find its way out. In tight quarters, the steering wheel will jiggle and jerk like a Nervous Nellie and it’s as likely to find its way into a blind corner as it is to find its way out.
- Speed Bumps: FSD Beta does not routinely slow down for speed bumps.
- School Zones: FSD Beta does not automatically lower the speed to comply with school zone speeds when lights are flashing to indicate it is the time of day when drivers should comply with them.