Tesla is expanding its “full self-driving” (FSD) beta software “to anyone in North America who requests it from the car’s screen,” according to CEO Elon Musk who Tweet The news was out last Wednesday evening. The rollout of FSD across the continent comes as Tesla faces a criminal investigation from the US Department of Justice over possible false claims related to the company’s advanced driver assistance system Autopilot.
Autopilot comes standard on Tesla vehicles and performs automated driving functions such as steering, acceleration and automatic braking. FSD, which will cost North American drivers $15,000, is an extension of Autopilot that includes features such as assisted steering on highways and city streets, smart vehicle summons, automatic parking, and detecting and responding to traffic lights and stop signs.
Autopilot, and by extension FSD, has come under regulatory scrutiny in recent years after a series of Tesla crashes, many of which were fatal. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened special investigations into 36 Tesla crashes involving Autopilot since 2016, five of which occurred this year. Tesla has also come under fire from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles and drivers who claim the company falsely advertised Autopilot and FSD’s self-driving capabilities.
Some Tesla owners and enthusiasts prediction The company may allow FSD on all cars after Tesla appears to have dropped the requirement for 100 Autopilot miles and a safety score of at least 80 to receive the FSD update. This is related to the lack of verification given that drivers using ADAS are less likely to see the road and risk being alerted to system malfunctions. Tesla’s website encourages drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
Despite the concerns, any driver who has already paid the high price for Tesla’s FSD will be able to access the software in North America. Tesla previously expanded FSD access to 160,000 owners in the US and Canada in September, and today’s mass rollout makes good on previous promises to get FSD in every Tesla by the end of 2022.
Musk claimed Tesla could achieve full self-driving by the end of the year, but admitted during the company’s third-quarter earnings call that FSD won’t get regulatory approval to drive without someone behind the wheel in 2022. The move to expand may be one of the reasons Tesla chose to expand now given the number of users and possibly more data to work with Tesla’s supercomputer Dojo.
This could be a move to ease investor anxiety and collect some more revenue. Tesla’s stock is at a two-year low and its market cap has fallen from $1.2 trillion last November to $574 billion after Musk’s buyout on Twitter and subsequent drama over the company’s restructuring.
The FSD scaling also follows news from Tesla engineers Romy Fadte and Gabe Gherghian who spoke at BazelCon this week and shared that Tesla has increased the number of FSD simulations per week from about 250,000 in 2020 to 2 million today.