The Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta is now available to all Tesla customers in North America, CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta is now available to anyone in North America who requests it from the car screen, assuming you have bought this option,” Musk tweeted.
Despite its name, Full Self-Driving does not enable autonomous driving, although Musk has repeatedly claimed that it will at some point with gradual software updates. The current version is still a driver-assist system that requires full attention at all times. Musk himself still considers the current version to be incomplete, hence the “Beta” designation.
Tesla’s own software has also introduced at least one flaw. In February, the automaker had to recall almost 54,000 vehicles running a recent version of Full Self-Driving that allowed the vehicles to disobey stop signs. A software update disabled that function.
Tesla began installing what it claimed at the time was all the necessary hardware for self-driving in 2016, though it’s made some changes to the hardware package since then. Tesla requires customers to pay for the software to enable Full Self-Driving.
The price of that software has steadily increased over the years. It cost $5,000 when launched in 2016, but Tesla raised the price to $10,000 in 2020, and again to $12,000 earlier this year, and finally to $15,000 in September.
Musk has argued that a fully autonomous Tesla will be able to generate revenue for its owner through use in a “robotaxi” service, where cars are rented out to shuttle-paying passengers when owners aren’t using them. But that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Musk said in October that Tesla was still waiting on regulatory approval for autonomous driving, adding that Tesla would release a software update sometime in 2023 aimed at showing regulators that the tech is safe.
Meanwhile, Tesla is getting more scrutiny from those regulators. In 2021, Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), called the Full Self-Driving name “misleading and irresponsible,” and expressed concerns over Tesla handing what it considers “beta” software to customers for use on public roads. That same year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also opened a safety probe into Tesla’s more basic Autopilot system after dozens of crashes involving Teslas and emergency vehicles.
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