Tesla “Full Self-Driving” Starts Rolling Out — What Is It? [Updated with Videos]

October 22nd, 2020 by Zachary Shahan 

Ten days ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted in response to a CleanTechnica article that Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” suite would start rolling out to a select group of drivers on Tuesday of this week — yesterday, October 20.

Elon tweeted again yesterday that the rollout would indeed begin last night.

In the past few hours, we’ve gotten the first notifications from early beta testers that they’ve got the update.

The fun at this point is simply following those people and checking out how the new FSD features work. As soon as I get the update on my Tesla Model 3, I will certainly do my best to show and explain the tech as well, but that may take weeks or even months, as Elon Musk says they are rolling out the FSD suite very slowly and cautiously to try to be sure it’s as safe as possible.

If you haven’t been following this topic much up till now, I’ll repost below a segment of an article I wrote in March about the expected sequence of FSD software updates. Before that, though, I highly recommend these three pieces for more on this tech and the people behind it:

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Regarding the March article I referenced above, below is a segment of that article in which I listed the “big barriers remaining that keep me from using Autopilot all the time.” After sharing those barriers exactly as I wrote them out in March, I’ll list the status of each of them today and how they relate to the update some Tesla owners are beta testing right now.

  1. Getting out of my parking lot. (The car simply won’t navigate itself out of a parking space if not summoned and definitely not out of a parking lot and onto a public road.)
  2. Stopping at red lights and stop signs. (This next Autopilot update will apparently leap over that barrier.)
  3. Turning at intersections where you should turn. (I assume that will not be included in the next update, and I’m concerned about the car’s ability to do this well at this point, but we’ll see.)
  4. Avoiding potholes. (Ugh. This is the #1 reason I turn off Autopilot aside from #2 and #3 above. Since solving #2 and #3 are absolutely mandatory for Full Self Driving, I’m sure those features are in the works, but I haven’t seen confirmation that Tesla is working on the ability to avoid potholes.)
  5. Parking itself. (Aside from getting into a parking lot and navigating to a free space, Autopark is not very reliable — it seldom presents itself as an option — and it freaks me the heck out as soon as the steering wheel starts spinning fast, so I don’t use it.)

Okay, so, where are we with each of these matters right now?

  1. Navigating parking lots autonomously: I’m not clear whether this is in the new FSD update, but I’m assuming not. I think this update is only providing improved Autopilot functionality on public roads — not in private parking lots. There is no mention of parking areas or improved autoparking in the release notes for Full Self-Driving.
  2. Autostopping at lights & stop signs: Yep, all Tesla cars in North America with FSD can now automatically stop at red lights and stop signs.
  3. Turning at intersections (right & left turns): Yep, this is part of the FSD suite that just started rolling out to beta testers. We’ll see how it does!
  4. Avoiding potholes: This is supposed to be part of the new software’s capabilities, but there’s no mention of it so far with regards to this new update. Elon Musk did respond on August 14 to a question about this potential capability with the following tweet: “Yes! We’re labeling bumps & potholes, so the car can slow down or steer around them when safe to do so.” So, I would assume the beta testers will see this in action. I also assume it’s at a fairly rudimentary stage and will get much better as time goes on and the neural networks learn how to deal with different types of potholes in different situations (there are so many variations of this matter).
  5. True autoparking: Tesla cars can currently autopark in certain scenarios, but the capability is quite limited. I think the new FSD suite will include better autoparking, but, again, I don’t think the cars will navigate themselves to parking places from far away. I think you’ll still need to be next to the parking space and in a decent position to start the automatic process.

Is there anything you think is not clear? Any questions?

Want to buy a Tesla Model 3, Model Y, Model S, or Model X? Feel free to use my referral code to get some free Supercharging miles with your purchase: https://ts.la/zachary63404

You can also get a $100 discount on Tesla solar with that code.

No pressure. 


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Tags: Tesla, Tesla autopilot, Tesla Full Self-Driving, Tesla Software updates

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is tryin’ to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in NIO [NIO], Tesla [TSLA], and Xpeng [XPEV]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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