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Tesla has been promising fully-automated cars and “robotaxis” for years now. Unfortunately, the company has not been able to live up to this promise yet. Tesla has offered “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) as a package on many of the capable cars. But as of right now, those cars can’t utilize this upgrade.

Full Self-Driving without the self-driving

According to The Drive, full self-driving is a measly $10,000 upgrade offered for cars that currently meet the Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) definition of partial autonomy.

Most of the cars meet the level two designation imparted by SAE. In recent months, Tesla has been mumbling about a new system called full self-drive beta, which would supposedly be more autonomous than the current option.

The Drive linked to some emails between Tesla and the California Department of Motor Vehicles discussed FSD Beta. The emails show that this system has made improvements, but there are no plans for fully autonomous vehicles anytime soon.

Elon Musk’s tweets add to the confusion

The emails show the California DMV asking for clarification on Elon Musk’s tweets about FSD back at the end of 2019. “Tesla holiday software update has FSD sneak preview…”

“Thanks for reaching out. The sneak peek is just to show some of the new visualizations that will go with some future features that will be released under the Full Self Driving package. The new visuals will show stop lines, stop signs, stop lights, road markings, etc. We completely understand and agree that we won’t deploy any autonomous vehicle feature without a deployment permit.”

Al Prescott | Acting General Counsel for Tesla

Tesla has been releasing updates to some owners, which the company did call FSD Beta or “Autosteer on City Streets.” Musk said around 1,000 Tesla drivers received the update, but we have no idea what that number actually is.

The emails linked above from the DMV asked for clarification as well. It seems that Tesla wanted drivers to think the self-driving features were coming soon. Brian G. Soublet, Chief Counsel of the Department of Motor Vehicles, noted that deploying features that would allow fully-autonomous driving on a public road require a permit that Tesla does not hold.

Driving your Tesla while playing Cyberpunk will have to wait

Prescott replied that the update was to simply demonstrate some new visualizations such as stop signs, road lines, and stoplights. This, referred to as Autosteer on City Streets previously, is still in question by the DMV.

“City Streets continues to firmly root the vehicle in SAE Level 2 capability and does not make it autonomous under the DMV’s definition. City Streets’ capabilities with respect to the object and event detection and response (OEDR) sub-task are limited, as there are circumstances and events to which the system is not capable of recognizing or responding.”

Eric C. Williams | Associate General Counsel for Tesla

Williams further clarifies that this meant situations such as bad weather, construction zones, road debris, and other things that would require the driver to take over (Level 3 partial-autonomy.)

This was all fairly confusing given the definitions of FSD offered by Tesla initially. By the name alone, Full Self-Driving would, presumably, be fully self-driving. Full autonomy, or the level 5 definition of such, seems to be outside of the realm of what any car on the road is capable of right now.

When can we expect such a feature?

This is further complicated by what Elon Musk tweets out regularly, which is not in line with any discussion here, as seen above. He seemed to insinuate that you would be able to play video games while driving your Model Y.

It seems that the definitions set forth here do not line up with what is actually being developed. Autosteer on City Streets feature is a part of the FSD definition, so…did Tesla deliver?

Illuminated street signs do not seem to account for the $10,000 fee being charged for FSD. Or, perhaps the signs are very cool illuminated sign designs.

Either way, such a lack of clarity can cause some serious confusion. Given that we are discussing the ability to have your car drive for you, further clarification would be helpful. In conclusion, Tesla does not have full-self driving capability yet, unless you mean driving the car fully….yourself.


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