I thought I had written my last article on FSD Beta until I got access again. However, with almost 300 comments on my last article, I need to supply some context and rebut some of the comments. Please see my revised article below.
Background: After 206 days of my wife and I obsessively using Tesla FSD Beta in our Model 3, we have struck out 5 times and lost access to the software!
I paid $6,000 extra for Full Self Driving when I bought my Tesla Model 3 in October 2019. (Note: The cost for Full Self Driving with new Tesla purchases has been $12,000 for some time now.) On October 21, 2021, we were able to download the FSD Beta software, but we were only able to activate the software over a month later after passing Tesla’s infuriating Safety Test. Since then, we have obsessively used FSD Beta for 206 days. We were warned that if we had 5 forced disengagements of FSD Beta, we would lose access to it.
Note: We have driven nearly 72,000 miles with our Tesla Model 3, and 206 days with FSD Beta. We have had no accidents in that time. At age nearly 82, I have been driving for nearly 66 years with only two minor blind spot fender bender sideswipes and no serious accidents over that period.
Problem #1: Tesla doesn’t tell you how you get a forced disengagement.
From 2 years and 8 months of driving with Tesla’s autosteer and traffic-aware cruise control and 206 days with FSD Beta, I assume you get a forced disengagement for the following reasons: 1) If you don’t apply the correct amount of torque to the steering wheel for more than, say, 60 seconds. 2) If you exceed 80 mph, now 85 mph, when FSD Beta is active. 3) With FSD Beta, the camera above the mirror looking at your face is activated. If you fail to look at the road too long, you get a visual and auditory warning. I assume if you persist with this behavior for too long, you get a forced disengagement.
Problem #2: Unlike Tesla’s infuriating Safety Test, I was not informed the day/time of my infraction or the reason. This would have helped me avoid future infractions.
We did our best to not get forced disengagements. Over those 206 days, I got 3 forced disengagements. Up until recently, my wife had no forced disengagements. However, on the simple 30-mile rural drive from Three Lakes to Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and back, she got two forced disengagements and our FSD Beta access has been revoked.
I won’t make excuses. However, some of our readers think that if I wasn’t paying good enough attention to the road, I deserved to have my privileges revoked, and I want to respond to this. I would rebut the criticism with the following: Determining whether or not you put “the right amount” of torque on the steering wheel (not too little, not too much) is a very crude way of knowing whether you are paying attention to the road. I maintain that I had my eyes glued on the road, especially since I was being monitored by the cabin camera — I just didn’t handle the steering wheel properly and didn’t notice in time the blue flashing warning to move the wheel (note that you basically have to take your eyes off the road to look at the touchscreen and see this).
Thus problem #3, Double Jeopardy: Tesla’s system of using the camera above the mirror to watch the driver’s eyes to determine if he or she is watching the road is much superior to measuring the amount of torque on the wheel. Why should Tesla require that the driver do both to remain an active FSD Beta user? In fact, since it is much superior, why doesn’t Tesla use only the cabin camera for all Tesla drivers, not just those using FSD Beta. (Note: There are some Teslas that don’t have the cabin camera where this would not be possible, but most do have it.)
5 Strikes, You’re Out: When we now look at the FSD Beta instructions in the Autopilot sub-menu under the Controls Menu in our car, it says: Your access to FSD Beta has been revoked for recent driving behavior. It also says our access will be restored with an upcoming software release. We have no idea when that release will come.
So, our Tesla has now reverted to standard Autosteer and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control like almost every other Tesla. Also, we still have Autopilot on limited access roads and automatic stopping at stop signs and traffic lights.
I am resigned because I know there is nothing I can do about it. I very much enjoyed being part of Tesla’s ~100,0000 customer FSD Beta testing team. I’ve obsessively used FSD Beta for 206 days and through 5 updates of the software. It was fascinating to see the improvements in the software with the new versions, but even some backsliding (e.g., “phantom braking” and “phantom swerving”). There are also some critical failures which have not been addressed (e.g., occasional wrong lane choice and navigation failures). Also, in areas with high traffic density, FSD Beta is too slow and unable to make unprotected turns (with no traffic signals).
What does loss of access to Tesla FSD Beta mean to me?
- I can no longer enter an address or business into the navigation and have the car drive me there with no interventions (in ideal cases).
- My car will no longer initiate autosteer on single-lane roads with no yellow center lines. (There are many roads like this in rural Northern Wisconsin.)
- I am reverted to standard autosteer and traffic-aware cruise control (TACC) that every Tesla owner since 2016 has had access to. Instead of always pulling the right stalk down twice to initiate FSD Beta, I am again pulling the stalk down once for TACC and twice for autosteer.
- When using autosteer and coming to a turn marked for 15 mph, my car will now bail out in the middle of the turn. The same thing is true in rotaries. With FSD Beta, it would navigate the tightest turns successfully.
- My car will still stop at stop signs, but in one case, it slammed on the brakes, stopped early, and gave me an audible warning signal. When I pulled down the right stalk, my car moved forward a few feet and I had to pull down the stalk again to proceed through the stop sign.
- My car will stop at stop lights when the light is red but will also stop when the light is green unless I give approval with a downward tug on the right stalk.
- When using TACC, I can no longer set the speed more than 5 mph over the map speed limit. This was especially useful in rural Northern Wisconsin when the map speed limit is sometimes too low.
- When leaving a 35 mph zone in a town and returning to 55 mph, I must manually adjust the speed back up to 55 or 60 mph. FSD Beta would do this automatically.
- On the good side, I can now look at the control screen on my right or down at my phone for more than ~15 seconds without being nagged. With FSD Beta, you couldn’t look at the screen long enough to change a setting or switch to a new radio station without getting dinged.
Please continue to shower me with your comments in the comments section. I am particularly interested how many others have also lost their FSD Beta privileges.
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