Unlike most companies, Tesla doesn’t have a public relations team. It has founder and CEO Elon Musk, who drops news and memes on Twitter. Musk says the company is finally set to release the Full Self-Driving (FSD) update for compatible Tesla vehicles in the US, but this isn’t the first time he’s said that. If it’s true this time, the software will begin rolling out at midnight on Sept. 10 to beta testers. If all goes as planned, the final launch could be just a few weeks later.
According to Musk’s tweets, the rollout will feature FSD version 10, the end result of the lengthy beta program that enlisted Tesla owners to test the software on the open road. The company released version 9 in July, but only for those in its testing program. A slightly older version leaked recently, and someone took it for a spin in Ukraine. You can see that in the video below, but remember the software is only designed for the US. Without high-quality maps, it doesn’t work very well.
FSD is different from Autopilot, which is included with all of Tesla’s current vehicles. While Autopilot can handle driving in a straight line, FSD is intended to handle the entire A-to-B driving experience including automatic lane changes, full navigation, and traffic sign detection. However, this is still what’s known as a Level 2 self-driving system that requires the human driver to remain aware at all times, and that’s not what you think when you hear a name like “Full Self-Driving.”
It has taken longer than Tesla expected to get FSD ready for prime time. Musk first announced a release in 2018, but that didn’t happen. A year later, he said the release would happen in 2020. That, too, did not come to pass. This time, the announcement comes just a few days ahead of time, so we’re reasonably confident the release is for real this time.
Tesla charges an additional $10,000 for FSD at the time of purchase, and the delays have not sat well with some owners. A lawsuit filed in July accuses the company of false advertising as it promotes the unavailable FSD features. That’s not the only legal headache for Tesla. Government regulators are currently investigating a series of accidents in which vehicles in self-driving mode seem to have driven right into emergency vehicles, flashing lights and all. It’s unclear if FSD will address this situation specifically, but Musk does say it will take several weeks to roll out bug fixes and finalize FSD functionality. If you have a Tesla without the FSD package, the company offers a spendy $200 per month subscription option as well.
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