Tesla’s Elon Musk Says Self-Driving Is Hard, Finally

Tesla is often cagey about the status of the brand’s “FSD” system. Owners have long been waiting for the feature, and they’ve been paying for the privilege for quite some time. As things stand now, the brand’s autonomous software is split into two products. First, “Autopilot”, which provides an experience just like GM’s Super Cruise or similar adaptive cruise control software. The one everyone has been waiting for is Full Self-Driving, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Tesla customers are still paying for “full self-driving”

The display of a Model S sedan while Autopilot is active.
Autopilot in use | David Paul Morris via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has just acknowledged the challenges of full-self driving. Musk stated in a tweet on Saturday that “FSD 9 beta is shipping soon, I swear!” after facing criticism regarding the band’s full self-driving software. Musk has continually pushed back the timeline for the software, and it presents an issue for Tesla owners.

Presently, on Tesla’s website, the brand will charge new customers a whopping $10,000 for a feature that is coming “later this year” on the top-of-the-line Model S Plaid. That’s an awful lot of money for software the brand has been promising for several years. To Musk’s credit, he has finally acknowledged the monumental difficulty of bringing this new technology to the marketplace.

The tech has come a long way

Hands-free driving courtesy of Autopilot
Autopilot in use | David Paul Morris via Getty Images

In the second half of Saturday’s tweet, Musk stated “Generalized self-driving is a hard problem, as it requires solving a large part of real-world AI. Didn’t expect it to be so hard. . .” It’s great to see the brand taking some responsibility for delays in the rollout of full self-driving, but the company is still taking orders for an incomplete product. However, you’re not totally out of luck if you want to get close to the experience in the meantime.

Tesla’s Autopilot software has made leaps and bounds since its initial rollout. Generally, the adaptive cruise software is considered one of the best cruise control experiences in the business. It’s no secret that Autopilot software pushed other automakers to take the tech seriously. Now, manufacturers like GM are rivaling the tech, and Tesla needs to continue to improve to stay ahead.

What’s next for FSD

A woman sits in a Tesla with her hands off the while as the vehicle pilots itself.
Testing Autopilot software | Jasper Juinen via Getty Images

Clearly, there’s much progress to be made for Tesla and their full self-driving software. After all, Musk is only just now talking about a beta coming “soon”. That means there’s still much testing to be done before a production version is ready. There are also improvements that need to be made on Autopilot The software has gained a reputation for being too easy to trick into thinking there’s someone at the wheel when there isn’t. It’s incredibly important for the brand to acknowledge these faults as well. People have been both hurt and killed while using Autopilot improperly. This begs a very important question: Are drivers responsible enough to wield full self-driving?

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