Our Experiences With Tesla FSD 12.3.3 Going Through Roundabouts & Intersections (+ Video)

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Like many other Tesla owners who have bought “Full Self Driving” (FSD) in the past several years, I recently got version 12.3 installed on my car via an over-the-air software update. That was also the case for a few other CleanTechnica contributors. In this article, I’m sharing some of the experiences that one of those writers, David Havasi, and I have had with FSD 12.3.1 and FSD 12.3.3 here in Florida.

The video below was recorded last Thursday, and both David’s car and mine were running version 12.3.3 of FSD (“Full Self Driving Supervised”) at that time. However, we both referenced using 12.3.1 on recent trips to Miami (from Bradenton) and back. Interestingly, we had very different experiences on those road trips. However, let’s start with the video before getting to that.

Testing Tesla FSD 12.3.3 on City Streets and in Roundabouts

Note that Dick Amacher joined us on these drives. Dick worked on GM’s EV1 project back in the day, and he received delivery of the first Tesla Model Y in Florida. He also has FSD 12.3.3 and will contribute some pieces in the future on a big road trip using the technology.

I’m going to highlight a few notable moments from our drives. In the future, David and I are also going to do regular drives (with video) to document changes in FSD better, but the overarching point I’d make first of all is that it has gotten much better and much more comfortable, natural, and smooth with the change to version 12, which uses neural nets for decision making much more broadly than it had before. It truly is stunning to see how much more enjoyable driving with FSD is now, and David and I agreed that this is what we thought we’d be getting a few years ago when Tesla started rolling out FSD on city streets. Now that we are at this point, we are more eager and ready to test FSD and document its progress (or lack thereof — we’ll see what we get).

At 6:15, traffic in front of us is going through a light and we’re expecting to get through as well. From where I was sitting in the back seat, I didn’t see the light turn yellow or red, but on the camera, you can see the light turn yellow and the cars rolling through it, and then some of them hurry along to get across the street despite the light turning red. Actually, if you pay close attention to it, you can see that the Kia Soul right next to us sped up to cross the intersection. David’s Tesla Model 3 with FSD on did what you’re actually supposed to do — with enough time to slow down for the yellow light, it slowed down and then stopped at the front of the lane on red. Good work.

At 8:43, when we got the green light at that same intersection, the car started to drive forward and then noticed cars were still making left turns in front of us. It stopped a little bit harder than I would have — I would have basically inched forward but waited to really start driving until those cars finished turning. That said, FSD didn’t really jerk us — it just started driving a little prematurely (given there were cars probably running a red light in front of us) and then put on the brakes a little stronger than I would have needed to.

At about 10 minutes in, we witnessed the FSD system navigating a parking lot cautiously and pretty smoothly. The one thing we noticed is it went through the parking lot a bit more slowly than most humans would drive. This is probably smart and following normal parking lot speed limit rules — it’s just not how most humans drive through a parking lot.

At 21:20, a driver pulls out of the shopping center parking lot when it really shouldn’t have, essentially cutting us off — it also goes across the double lane marking as it realizes it doesn’t have the appropriate timing and is speeding up to not get hit by us or make us brake hard. FSD very smoothly slows down to leave the appropriate amount of space. Frankly, it seems to slow down more smoothly than I would have in this situation! Impressive.

At 22:15, turning right at a red light and merging into traffic, the car pulls out a bit quicker and more aggressively than I would, but it was effective for not disrupting traffic or causing any safety concerns.

At 23:00, David’s car is getting into a left turn lane and then decides for a moment it should go back into the lane it’s come from, but then realizes it does want to get into the turn lane and goes back to doing the right thing. It’s not a big error, but it’s the kind of thing where if there was a car behind impatiently trying to get through the light ahead, that car could have started speeding up and nicked the back bumper of David’s car when it started returning to the lane, or the driver at least could have been irritated by David’s apparent indecision and attempt to return to the lane he was leaving. That said, being Florida, we noted that it wouldn’t be all that unusual of a thing to see! But, yes, I’m marking that down as a notable error — though, one that I think Tesla’s FSD system should resolve before long.

At 26:30, this is not a safety thing at all, but just something I don’t like from trying to be an efficient driver who avoids using the brakes — the car sped up a bit before then having to brake at a red light. I’d prefer that it judge these situations better and simply rely on the regen braking to stop at a red light.

At 28:23, turning left at that same red light, we were in a similar situation to David at 6:15. However, in this instance, although the car started to slow down as the light turned yellow, it seemed that it then crossed the white stopping line naturally and decided it should then go ahead and proceed through the yellow light. In my opinion, it made the perfect decision there, and smoothly, too!

At 31:30, I was very close to a pedestrian crossing and there was a man on the right who was ready to cross. My car (FSD) put on the brakes for him, but then started to move forward again as he started to cross! Right after that, it was seemingly slowing down again, but the car was way too close to the pedestrian to take a chance — I didn’t want to risk scaring him, let alone hitting him, so I took over from FSD and hit the brakes.

At 32:50, we discuss whether FSD 12.3 recognizes school zones with flashing yellow lights. I have since triple or quadruple checked and FSD does not seem to notice when a school zone is active (yellow lights flashing). It tries to drive through them at the street’s normal speed, which is of course illegal and dangerous.

Watch the whole thing for more details and experiences.

Two Road Trips to Miami & Back

David and I, separately, happened to make trips from Bradenton to Miami and back after getting version FSD 12.3.1. David used it a ton, including in the city of Miami, and was extremely impressed with it. Soon after leaving Bradenton, I tried using it on the interstate and it kept steering me into the left side of the lane instead of keeping centered. This wasn’t just a matter of preference — it was extreme and certainly wasn’t appropriate with other traffic around — and it didn’t take too long that I gave up on using FSD around other cars on the interstate or in a busy city I’m not familiar with. So, I hardly used FSD on the trip. But then …

On one stretch of I-75 on the way back, there were no cars anywhere close to us in front of us or behind us. It was shocking to have no cars around, but I took the opportunity to try FSD 12.3 again. What happened then was a much bigger shocker. The car did what it had done at the beginning of the trip and started getting too far in the left side of the lane. Then it crossed the lane marking … but didn’t fully change lanes. It sat there straddling the to lanes for a while, about 60% in one lane and 40% in another, or maybe even 50–50. I couldn’t understand it and couldn’t explain it. Naturally, we decided then that I was done testing FSD with other people in the car. Unfortunately, we weren’t filming, but a moment later, we did snap a picture of the roadway in front of us to show how empty it was, how clear the lane markings were, and that the road condition was fine. Here’s the picture:

Tesla FSD 12.3 fail on interstate
A few moments before this picture was taken, FSD 12.3.1 was about halfway between the lane on the left and this center lane the car is in here — just sitting there straddling the lane markings and not trying to fully get into one lane or the other. Very confusing. Photo by Zach Shahan | CleanTechnica.

Two Other Tesla FSD 12.3.3 Test Drivers & Issues

In fact, in this picture, we were now closer to another car than we were before, and the road was curving instead of completely straight. So, the situation where we tried using FSD was even more ideal. Color me bewildered, especially after seeing so many positive reviews of version 12.3.

To end, I’ll note that I’ve seen several great experiences with FSD on social media, but I also noticed two issues people encountered. Here they are:

Interestingly, both of those issues are similar to notable moments in the short drives David and I made. In that first one above, the car (FSD) seems to get confused about which lane it should be in to turn. The experience was more extreme than David’s, as the car decided to change from the left turn lane into the right turn lane in the middle of the intersection. The action was clearly unsafe and illegal. In the second video, it’s hardest to notice an issue from the video, but the tester’s explanation of it makes it seem quite unsafe — like the car started to brake for the yellow light but then changed its mind and tried to go through a bit later than ideal. I’ll keep my eyes out for more cases like these, or other potential issues. Let us know if you spot any, too!

With those experiences shared, let us know your thoughts on FSD 12.3 so far and anything you’l like to add, ask, or see tested. As noted at the top, David and I will be documenting our FSD driving now on a regular basis and testing it out in different areas of the city. Also, I think you can all trust that, unlike some people in this space, I will be objective in sharing both the good and the bad and keeping an open mind about it all. Subscribe to CleanTechnica.TV and hit the notification bell to follow along!

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Zachary Shahan has 7399 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan