Home U.S Tesla unleashes 'Full Self-Driving Beta' - but with raft of safety warnings

Tesla unleashes 'Full Self-Driving Beta' – but with raft of safety warnings


Elon Musk has confirmed the initial roll-out of a ‘beta’ version of its ‘Full Self-Driving’ mode for Tesla electric vehicles.

The US car maker will release the technology to a few select customers before expanding its availability ‘extremely slow and cautious, as it should’ at a cost of $2,000 – around £1,500 for UK driver. 

However, the release of the technology comes with a raft of caveats, with the brand warning it ‘must be used with additional caution’ and ‘it made 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’.

It is also currently not allowed to legally be used on UK roads, although proposals exist to allow the next level of autonomous car technology from next year.

Self-driving warning: Elon Musk has confirmed the initial roll-out of Tesla's 'Full Self-Driving Beta' technology, though it comes with a raft of caveats for users

Self-driving warning: Elon Musk has confirmed the initial roll-out of Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving Beta’ technology, though it comes with a raft of caveats for users

A user who has been selected for the beta trial tweeted the update message that appeared on the screen of their Tesla car selected for the tech.

It says: ‘Full Self-Driving’ is in early limited access Beta and must be used with additional caution.

‘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.

‘When Full Self-Driving is enabled your vehicle will make lane changes off highway, select forks to follow your navigation route, navigate around other vehicles and objects, and make left and right turns.

‘Use Full-Self Driving in limited Beta only if you will pay constant attention to the road, and be prepared to act immediately, especially around blond corners, crossing intersections, and in narrow driving situations.’ 

Musk has assured people that the roll out of the system beyond the beta phase would be ‘extremely slow and cautious, as it should’, though intends to cash-in on being the first car maker to provide autonomous driving tech. 

The Tesla founder confirmed that, from Monday 26 November, an update would be made available, which would increase the cost of a new Tesla by around $2,000, which in the UK would be around £1,500. 

Tesla Owners Silicon Valley tweeted this image of the FSD update that appears on screen

Tesla Owners Silicon Valley tweeted this image of the FSD update that appears on screen

Tesla warns the new system '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'

Tesla warns the new system ‘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’

The initial owners selected for the beta version of FSD have been warned to 'not become complacent' when using the technology

The initial owners selected for the beta version of FSD have been warned to ‘not become complacent’ when using the technology

Despite the alarming safety message to users, the clarification that drivers must keep their hands on the wheel at all times and the beta reference suggesting the system is still in a development phase, Musk and Tesla are calling the tech ‘Full Self-Driving’, which has been shortened to FSD. 

Some 29 US states have passed legislation for the use of self-driving vehicles, though all have varying requirements, including the need for having a human sat at the wheel at all times.

Closer to home, safety bodies have argued vehemently that any technology requiring users to monitor the road and be prepared to take over control in all situations are classified as assistive systems, and cars with these features should not be marketed in a way that conveys they are capable of driving themselves. 

The US brand has already come under huge criticism from crash test experts Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research, which said Tesla’s Autopilot system is ‘especially misleading’ and ‘encourages motorists to relinquish too much control’.

Tesla has come under heavy criticism from safety experts in recent weeks, with Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research saying the statements made about the US firm's Autopilot system are misleading and encourage drivers to relinquish too much control

Tesla has come under heavy criticism from safety experts in recent weeks, with Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research saying the statements made about the US firm’s Autopilot system are misleading and encourage drivers to relinquish too much control

Tesla’s latest technology also comes at a time when the government is currently consulting on the proposed legal use of hand-free driving technology on UK roads for the first time next year.

Automatic Lane Keep Systems – or ALKS – could be allowed on British motorways from spring 2021, which would steer vehicles equipped with these systems on the fastest-moving roads in the country.   

Road and vehicle safety experts have dubbed the systems a ‘nascent technology’ that may not work on the country’s ‘smart’ motorway network. They added that insurers are also yet to be convinced by the technology. 

Tesla confirmed last night that it has smashed through Wall Street’s expectations as it released extremely positive third-quarter results.

The electric car maker said revenue rose to a record £6.7billion from £4.8billion a year earlier — well ahead of the £6.4billion analysts had pencilled in.

And its profit hit £534million for the three month period, higher than estimates of £404million.

Oxford trial of autonomous vehicles begins this week 

The first live trials of a new autonomous vehicle fleet has been given the green this week on roads in Oxford.  

Project Endeavour – a Government-backed R&D project – will run until Autumn 2021 with live tests in three major UK cities. 

The trials will demonstrate autonomous driving in a variety of urban and city environments and will develop engagement models with local authorities and communities to help them prepare for the future launch of autonomous vehicle services. 

A fleet of six Ford Mondeos with Level 4 autonomous driving tech will complete a nine-mile round trip from Oxford Parkway station to Oxford’s main train station. 

Trials will be run at all times of day and nigh to collect data on a range of traffic scenarios from morning commutes to school runs, in a range of weather conditions.

Launched in September 2019, the project has brought together Oxbotica, a global leader in autonomous software, urban innovators DG Cities and Immense, a leading transport simulation company. Ahead of the public trials, three new consortium partners have been added to Project Endeavour: the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), the British Standards Institution (BSI) and Oxfordshire County Council. 

Camilla Fowler, Head of Automation at TRL, said: “Trials of Level 4 vehicles are an important milestone, keeping the UK at the head of the field in bringing the benefits of this technology into mainstream use. 

‘These exciting trials, and what we learn about assuring safety and encouraging interoperability will open up new opportunities for many more research demonstrations across the UK, which are the forerunners to the full-scale public trials so eagerly awaited.’ 

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