Technology

Elon Musk Says Tesla's Latest Beta Self-Driving Software Is ‘Not Great'

Patrick Pleul | Reuters
  • "FSD Beta 9.2 is actually not great imo, but Autopilot/AI team is rallying to improve as fast as possible," Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter.
  • Musk's critical tweet on Monday came just days after he touted Tesla's prowess with autonomous systems and components for them at an event called Tesla AI Day.
  • Musk's critical tweet also follows the launch of a formal investigation into Tesla's Autopilot system by federal vehicle safety authorities in the US last week.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Monday called the latest release of the company's experimental driver assistance software, FSD Beta 9.2, "actually not great" on Twitter.

Specifically, Musk wrote:

"FSD Beta 9.2 is actually not great imo, but Autopilot/AI team is rallying to improve as fast as possible. We're trying to have a single stack for both highway & city streets, but it requires massive NN retraining."

The company sells a Full Self-Driving capability (or FSD) package for $10,000 or $199 per month in the US. This premium driver assistance system does not make Tesla electric vehicles safe for use without an attentive driver behind the wheel.

Nine hours after his critical remark, Musk added another tweet to the same thread saying he had just tested FSD Beta version 9.3 driving from Pasadena to Los Angeles airport and he found it "much improved." FSD Beta 9.3 is not yet available to the thousands of Tesla drivers in the FSD Beta program. 

FSD Beta is available only to some drivers who previously purchased FSD and Tesla employees. The beta version features new or newly revised functionality that is added to the car's premium driver assistance features.

Drivers usually agree to keep their experiences private, though some public FSD Beta users are allowed to post videos to social media showing off and critiquing the latest features that they have tried on U.S. roads.

Regulators may one day decide to disallow vehicle testing with drivers who are not trained professionals on public roads. But for now, no regulation interferes with Tesla's ability to turn their customers, and everyone they share the road with, into guinea pigs.

Musk's critical tweet on Monday came just days after he touted Tesla's prowess with autonomous systems and components for them at an event called Tesla AI Day.

At that event, last week on Thursday, Tesla showed off a custom chip for training artificial-intelligence networks in data centers. The chips are meant to train models for automatically identifying a variety of obstacles that appear on the road in video feeds recorded by cameras inside Tesla vehicles.

Among other things, FSD today is sold with the promise of enabling a Tesla vehicle to automatically change lanes, navigate on the highway, move into a parking spot, or emerge from one and drive across a small distance to the driver's side at a slow pace without anyone behind the wheel.

Tesla says later this year FSD will also include the ability to automatically steer on city streets, a long-delayed feature. FSD Beta has included the auto steer on city streets feature, albeit it imperfect and incomplete.

Musk's critical tweet also followed the launch of a formal investigation into Tesla's Autopilot system by federal vehicle safety authorities in the US last week.

Autopilot is the basic version of Tesla's driver assistance system, and today it comes as a standard part of their cars.

Tesla vehicles with Autopilot, or just traffic aware cruise control features engaged, crashed into first responder vehicles at least 11 times in the US, NHTSA found, leaving at least 17 people injured and 1 dead. That prompted the formal probe into whether Autopilot contains safety defects that NHTSA may require Tesla to change.

Additionally, late last week, NTSB's newly appointed chairwoman Jennifer Homendy, said in an interview with Bloomberg, "Whether it's Tesla or anyone else, it is incumbent on these manufacturers to be honest in what their technology does and does not do."

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