Tesla will be releasing an FSD (Full Self-Driving) beta to select Tesla customers next week, says Elon Musk in a comment that was made, of course, via Twitter.
It’s a feature that’s been teased for a while, theoretically meaning that a car would require almost zero human intervention to navigate between two locations. It could be one of the major steps towards fully autonomous vehicles.
Tesla vehicles have had autopilot features for a while, allowing them to make large phases of the journey with very little involvement from the driver, but a human being’s input is still required for some of the more fiddly elements. That may change soon, as a tweet from Elon dated October 12th went thusly:
“Limited FSD beta releasing on Tuesday next week, as promised. This will, at first, be limited to a small number of people who are expert & careful drivers.”
It’s still not been made clear who these expert and closed drivers are, implying that it’ll be a closed beta with a pre-selected shortlist of approved testers, rather than just offering this highly-experimental software to anybody who signs up online or likes one of Musk’s tweets. One also can’t help but wonder if certain Tesla-sympathetic news outlets will get copies… but that’d be too cynical, right?
Still, it makes sense. If you’re releasing a new software many won’t be familiar with, you want to make sure it works before it devolves into a literal car crash.
The actual idea of FSD is certainly groundbreaking, though Tesla has stressed that this won’t mean you can take a nap or play on your phone while going to work. You still have to keep your hands on the wheel and pay attention to the road, just in case the software has a panic attack when a line of unregistered ducklings crosses ahead of you. Nonetheless, it’s a major step towards that mythical being: the self-driving truck, and means we’re one step closer to AI ruling the roads.