Tesla Unveils Beta Full Self-Driving Mode

By Elijah Labby Friday, October 23, 2020

Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed the rollout of the company’s Full Self-Driving Beta update. The update, which has been hotly-anticipated, changes the vehicle’s interpretation of its real-world surroundings from two dimensions to four.

This means that the upgrade, dubbed FSD Beta by Musk, has a greater ability to make decisions about driving conditions.

The upgrade is intended to work in line with Tesla’s Autopilot feature, which requires the driver to have at least one hand on the wheel but can steer, accelerate, and brake automatically, as well as suggest lane changes.

However, in the Beta’s release notes, Tesla urges users to take caution with the device, which uses machine learning and experience to increase functionality across the Tesla fleet.

“Full Self-Driving is in early limited access Beta and must be used with additional caution,” the release read. “It may do the wrong thing at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road. Do not become complacent.”

Tesla’s road to Full Self-Driving has been tumultuous at times. Numerous reports of fatalities because of Autopilot technology have placed the company in the crosshairs of governmental agencies like the National Transportation Safety Board. In one case, the board concluded that the program contributed to a crash because of “the operational design of Tesla’s partial automation system, which permitted disengagement by the driver, and the company’s failure to limit the use of the system to the conditions for which it was designed.”

The Influence of Tesla’s Past on Its New Release

These incidents have arguably forced Tesla, which has struggled to reach profitability without the help of electric vehicle (EV) regulatory credits, to be more cautious this time around.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Musk said the release of FSD would be “extremely slow & cautious, as it should.”

Many users who have received the upgrade have expressed excitement about it. Twitter user @brandonee916, who upgraded his Tesla, said the machine, while just as slow as Musk said, was promising.

“Overly cautious at a roundabout... I didn’t have to interact until the end of the process. Not bad for the first attempt! Go FSD BETA!” he said.

Unfortunately for first-time buyers, the upgrade will come at a cost. In a series of tweets on Thursday, Musk said the price of the FSD feature in the United States would increase by about $2,000 next Thursday.

This price increase came as a surprise to some users, who felt Musk did not give them sufficient notice.

“You've typically given much more notice than this, which was fair. This doesn't feel like a great thing to spring on your customers who are either trying to plan their initial purchase or upgrading their existing car with only 5 days notice. $2k is a lot of money to surprise with,” said Ryan McCaffrey, Executive Editor of Previews at IGN.

Tesla Model 3 Announcement

Tesla also announced the release of its 2021 Model 3, which boasts a driving range of about 315 miles on a single charge.

Other features of the Model 3 include a power trunk, double-paneled windows, a heated steering wheel, a new center console, an automatically dimming rearview mirror, and a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 3.1 seconds.

The automobile will first be released in international markets before hitting the United States market in late 2020, at prices ranging from $37,990 to $54,990.

The vehicle is manufactured in Shanghai, China, where it is being shipped across Europe.

Some global analysts say that China will play a crucial role in Tesla’s global ambitions, given cheap labor costs in the region and booming demand for EVs.

Without China, says a representative from Wedbush, a Los Angeles-based financial services and investment firm, Tesla’s production and distribution would be dismal.

"Tesla is using this as a strategic advantage to go after other regions and pockets of Europe," he said.

"Ultimately, we see China representing 40%+ of global sales for the company potentially by early 2022," other Wedbush data analysts wrote.

The Chinese government has also smiled upon Tesla, granting them a sizable tax break for some of their cars as well as the privilege of being the first foreign automobile manufacturer allowed in the country without a Chinese partnership.

According to Tu Le, founder of Beijing consulting firm Sino Auto Insights, Tesla is now the country’s largest automotive manufacturer. The construction of the Shanghai plant, notes Le, was smooth.

"The Shanghai Gigafactory not having any significant issues really allows [Musk] to keep his foot on the gas," he said.

Le also said that China could become even more crucial to Tesla in the future.

“If 100% of their volume could be consumed domestically, then I'm pretty certain that they would sell it into China," Le said.

About the Author

Headshot for author Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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