Tesla drivers with a favorable safety score can now request its Full Self-Driving beta, despite criticism from regulators

Interior on a Tesla Model X full electric luxury crossover SUV car with a large touch screen and carbon look dashboard on display at Brussels Expo on JANUARY 09, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium
Tesla announced the decision on Saturday.

  • Tesla drivers can now request access to its Full Self-Driving Beta software.
  • Drivers will be tested on five factors for safety, after which Tesla will grant FSD access.
  • A US safety regulator has said Tesla’s use of the term “self-driving” is misleading.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk announced a highly anticipated software update on Saturday, allowing Tesla customers to request access to its Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software, despite drawing disapproval from safety advocates and regulators.

This marks the first time Tesla has allowed customers to request an upgrade to its FSD beta software.

The company had been under mounting pressure to release a final version of FSD, for which customers have forked out $10,000 upfront for the promise that it would eventually enable the cars to drive themselves.

But the FSD beta is still an unfinished upgrade, as none of Tesla’s driver-assistance systems make the cars fully autonomous.

In March, Musk tweeted that the download button for the feature would give users access to the FSD beta as soon as their car connected to Wi-Fi. But that approach has seemingly changed, as Tesla now has a calculator that determines whether a user’s driving behavior can allow them to use the software.

Tesla issued a “safety score” guide which details the specific criteria under which drivers are graded. It says drivers will be scored between 0 to 100, with most receiving 80 or above.

The safety score is an assessment of driving behavior based on five metrics.
The safety score is an assessment of driving behavior based on five metrics.

Drivers will be graded based on five factors – forward-collision warnings per 1,000 miles, hard braking, aggressive turning, unsafe following, and forced autopilot disengagement, according to the guide.

“These are combined to estimate the likelihood that your driving could result in a future collision,” Tesla said. To get a safety score, vehicles must be connected to a Wi-Fi network and users should have downloaded software update 2021.32.22.

Only those users that have a “safe” driving record for an entire week will be granted access to the FSD Beta software.

The software update allows drivers access to an “autosteer on city streets” feature, which isn’t yet flawless, and lets them navigate roads alongside other vehicles, cyclists, and people without moving the steering wheel on their own.

Still, drivers are cautioned to remain attentive and prepared to take over driving when prompted.

Tesla’s FSD software has been subject to heavy criticism by safety advocates and the top US safety regulator.

Jennifer Homendy, the new head of the National Transportation Safety Board, told The Wall Street Journal ahead of the Beta release that the EV-maker’s use of the term self-driving is “misleading and irresponsible.”

“Basic safety issues have to be addressed before they’re then expanding it to other city streets and other areas,” Homendy told the Journal.

That claim, and Tesla’s Autopilot feature, has been criticized by regulators and lawmakers who said the names make drivers think the cars are autonomous when they aren’t.

“It has clearly misled numerous people to misuse and abuse technology,” Homendy added.

Last month, Musk said FSD’s software before the latest update was “actually not great” and drivers should be “paranoid” when driving with it.

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Elon Musk knocked Apple, bemoaned the microchip shortage, and touted self-driving cars on Tesla’s Q2 earnings call. Here are the 12 best quotes.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk with a hardhat.JPG
Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk discussed microchips, manufacturing, and self-driving cars on Tesla’s Q2 earnings call.
  • The Tesla CEO slammed Apple and encouraged more people to work in manufacturing.
  • Musk doesn’t plan to feature on every Tesla earnings call in the future.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk trumpeted the rich potential of self-driving cars, bemoaned the microchip shortage, and underscored the challenges of manufacturing at scale during Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call this week.

The Tesla CEO also criticized Apple, urged people to pursue careers in manufacturing, and suggested he might skip future earnings calls.

Here are Musk’s 12 best quotes from the earnings call, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:

1. “The chip supply is fundamentally the governing factor on our output. It is difficult for us to see how long this will last, because this is out of our control, essentially. It does seem like it’s getting better, but it’s hard to predict.” – referring to the global shortage of semiconductors.

2. “Those who have not actually been involved in the manufacturing ramp-up just have no idea how painful and difficult it is. You gotta eat a lot of glass.”

3. “It takes a while to hire people and train people to operate the factory. The factory is like a giant cybernetic collective, and you can’t just hire 10,000 people and have them work instantly. It’s not possible.”

4. “Don’t think this is the messiah or something.” – downplaying a change to Tesla’s batteries that could reduce production costs by 10%.

5. “We have the Baskin-Robbins of batteries. We have so many formats and so many chemistries that it’s like we’ve got 36 flavors of battery.”

6. “I really encourage more people to get involved in manufacturing. The US has an overallocation of talent in finance and law. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have people in finance and law. I’m just saying that maybe we have too many smart people in those areas.”

7. “The value of a fully electric, autonomous fleet is gigantic – boggles the mind, really. That will be one of the most valuable things that is ever done in the history of civilization.”

8. “At scale, we’ll have billions of miles of travel to show that a car with autopilot on is 100% or 200% safer or more than the average human driver. At that point, it would be unconscionable not to allow autopilot because the car just becomes way less safe.”

9. “You used to have elevator operators with a big switch to move between floors. But they would get tired or maybe drunk or distracted, and every now and again, somebody would be sheared in half between floors. That’s kind of the situation we have with cars. Autonomy will become so safe that it will be unsafe to manually operate the car, relatively speaking. It would be quite alarming if elevators today were operated by a person with a giant switch. That’s how we’ll be with cars.”

10. “The really remarkable thing that Tesla’s done is not to make an electric car or to be a car startup. The thing that’s remarkable is that Tesla didn’t go bankrupt in reaching volume production. Out of all the American car companies, there are only two that have not gone bankrupt and those are Ford and Tesla. The seeds of defeat are sown on the day of victory. We will endeavor not to make that the case of Tesla.”

11. “Our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy. It is not to create a walled garden and use that to bludgeon our competitors, which is sometimes used by some companies.” – likely referring to Apple’s ecosystem of hardware, software, and services.

12. “I will no longer be the default during earnings calls. Going forward, I will most likely not be on earnings calls unless there’s something really important that I need to say.”

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Elon Musk said it’s ‘debatable’ whether it’s worth paying $199 for Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ subscription

Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a black suit walks on stage in front of an image of a Model Y vehicle
Tesla CEO Elon Musk walks in front of a Model Y image in Shanghai.

  • Elon Musk discussed Tesla’s new Full Self-Driving (FSD) subscription in the company’s earnings call.
  • Musk said it was “debatable” whether it’s worth paying the subscription right now.
  • He said people subscribing to FSD, which doesn’t make your Tesla autonomous, were “betting on the future.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk says it’s “debatable” whether Tesla’s new “Full Self Driving” (FSD) subscription is worth paying for.

Tesla announced last week it would let customers purchase FSD with a $199 monthly subscription, rather than paying $10,000 up front when they buy their vehicle, which was the only option before.

During the company’s earnings call on Monday, Musk said: “We need to make Full Self-Driving work in order for it to be a compelling value proposition.”

He added customers were essentially “betting on the future” by buying the subscription because FSD is not yet widespread.

“Right now, does it make sense for somebody to do FSD subscription? I think it’s debatable. But once we have Full Self-Driving widely deployed, then the value proposition will be clear,” Musk said.

He was answering a question from an analyst about the subscription’s pricing.

FSD does not make Tesla cars fully autonomous – rather, it adds various driver-assistance features. Tesla says drivers must stay fully attentive with their hands on the wheel while FSD is enabled. The company warned on July 10, following the release of FSD’s most recent software update, that the vehicle may do the “wrong thing at the worst time.”

Read more: Tesla and China dominate electric vehicles right now but Europe is the place to watch. Meet its 10 most important innovators and investors.

Earlier in the call, Musk said the company expected FSD to “build slowly” but gather “a lot of momentum over time.” This is more cautious than some of his previous predictions.

In July 2020, Musk told a conference in Shanghai Tesla would have the “basic functionality” for truly autonomous vehicles by the end of that year. In April 2019, Musk also said the company would put 1 million autonomous “robotaxis” on the road in 2020 – the company has yet to release any.

In July 2021 Musk tweeted that building a fully autonomous car had turned out to be harder than he expected.

Tesla’s FSD, along with its more rudimentary Autopilot system, have come under public scrutiny over safety concerns. Musk said in April that a Tesla on Autopilot mode was 10 times less likely to get into an accident than a regular car, although experts told Insider’s Tim Levin that this stat was misleading.

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Tesla knocked $500 off a hardware upgrade for its Full Self Driving subscription after customer backlash, a report says

Tesla Model 3 Hamburg
A Tesla Model 3 (left) and other Tesla models are on display in a Tesla Service Center in Hamburg.

  • Tesla offered customers with older car models a $1,500 hardware upgrade to get “Full Self-Driving.”
  • This provoked backlash – Tesla said in 2016 its cars would come with Full Self-Driving hardware.
  • Tesla appears to have dropped the price to $1,000, Electrek reports.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla appears to have dropped the price on a new hardware upgrade for its new Full Self-Driving (FSD) subscription.

Tesla announced on Friday that customers could get its FSD software, which does not make the car fully autonomous, through a $199 monthly subscription rather than paying $10,000 upfront, which was previously the only way to get FSD. The company said it would charge $1,500 to upgrade hardware on older Tesla models to make them FSD-compatible.

This provoked outrage among some Tesla owners: As Electrek noted, the company announced in 2016 all its cars would come with FSD hardware already built in. On Tuesday, some Tesla customers noticed the price for upgrading their FSD hardware had dropped from $1,500 to $1,000.

Two screenshots posted on Reddit, and various screenshots on Twitter, showed that the installation cost had dropped to $1,000 for some customers.

Read more: Rivian-rival Lucid’s CEO thinks the EV industry is due for a brutal shakeout because startups are missing one key ingredient

FSD does not make Teslas fully autonomous, and when the company rolled out its most recent version of the software earlier this month it warned drivers to stay attentive as it could “do the wrong thing at the worst time.”

FSD is the name Tesla gives to its premium driver-assistance software, above its standard “Autopilot” feature. FSD lets drivers remotely summon their cars and change lanes automatically.

Tesla did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider on the reported price reduction.

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Tesla said it’s likely somebody was in the driver’s seat during a deadly Model S crash in Texas, contradicting local law enforcement

Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk again denied that the Tesla that crashed in Texas on April 17, killing two people, was on Autopilot.
  • A Tesla exec added it was likely that someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.
  • This contradicts statements made by local law enforcement.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Monday that the Model S that crashed just outside Houston, Texas, earlier this month, killing two people, wasn’t on Autopilot – and that any suggestion otherwise was “completely false.”

Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, added that he thought it was likely someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the deadly crash, contradicting local law enforcement.

On April 17, a Tesla Model S skipped over a curb, crashed into a tree, and burst into flames, killing two people.

A Harris County constable told local TV station KHOU on April 18 that investigators were “100% certain that no one was in the driver seat driving that vehicle at the time of impact.” A senior Harris County officer said on April 19 that witnesses had suggested nobody was driving the vehicle earlier in its journey.

Tesla’s electric vehicles come with Autopilot, a feature that allows the cars to brake, accelerate, and steer automatically. Tesla tells drivers using Autopilot to remain in the driver’s seat with their hands on the steering wheel – but earlier this month, Consumer Reports showed it was possible to turn on Autopilot with nobody in the driver’s seat.

Musk previously said that Autopilot was not being used at the time of the crash. Two days after the crash, he tweeted: “Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled.”

Read more: The electric car boom is coming to wipe out auto dealer profits. Consolidating into ‘super dealers’ may be their only way to survive.

During Tesla’s earnings call Monday, Musk said that “there were really just extremely deceptive media practices where it was claimed to be Autopilot but this is completely false.” He didn’t reference any specific media reports.

Moravy said that Tesla had been working with local authorities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate the crash.

“The steering wheel was indeed deformed so we’re leaning to the likelihood that someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash,” Moravy said.

“All seatbelts post-crash were found to be unbuckled,” he added. Tesla’s Autopilot only works when seatbelts are buckled in.

Moravy said that Tesla was unable to recover the data from the vehicle’s SD card at the time of impact, but that the local authorities were working on that.

“We continue to hold safety in a higher regard and look to improve products in the future through this kind of data and other information from the field,” he added.

Tesla also sells its full self-driving software (FSD) as a $10,000 one-off add-on, which it plans to release widely in 2021. FSD allows cars to park themselves, change lanes, and identify both stop signs and traffic lights.

Neither Autopilot nor FSD makes a Tesla car fully autonomous.

At least three drivers have died while using Tesla’s Autopilot, and the National Transportation Safety Board has called for increased scrutiny of self-driving software.

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Consumer Reports says Tesla’s cameras inside its cars, which transmit video footage of passengers, could pose a privacy risk

Elon Musk
  • Several Tesla models record and transmit video of drivers and passengers via in-car cameras.
  • Tesla cars have up to 9 cameras encompassing both the outside and inside of the car.
  • Consumer Reports said the in-car camera opens drivers up to serious privacy concerns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Several Tesla vehicle models, including the Model 3 and Model Y, record and transmit video footage of drivers and passengers via in-car cameras. The cameras are designed to help Tesla develop its full-self driving software, but present a serious privacy risk, according to Consumer Reports.

John Davisson, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), told Consumer Reports the footage opens Tesla drivers up to a whole host of privacy concerns, including the potential for outside parties to gain access to the data for malicious purposes, as well as Tesla itself using the data for its own gain.

“It may later be repurposed for a system that is designed to track the behaviors of the driver, potentially for other business purposes,” Davisson told Consumer Reports.

Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ auto-test center, told Insider the most concerning aspect of their investigation into the cameras was that Tesla was not being entirely transparent about how the cameras were being used.

“Tesla could be using these cameras to stop crashes and they’re using it for studies, to help Tesla develop more things,” Fisher told Insider. “Tesla is the only automaker that has hardware that could help stop crashes, but isn’t using it for the driver’s safety.”

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that Tesla has used the in-car cameras to remove its full self-driving software from drivers that “did not pay sufficient attention to the road.”

Musk confirmed the company was using the in-car cameras to determine eligibility for the FSD software, when asked by another Twitter user.

Other car companies, including BMW, Ford and General Motors have elaborate driver monitoring systems, but they have focused the systems on driver safety over collecting data. Consumer Reports notes the car companies do not record, save or transmit the data and use infrared technology to identify a driver’s eye movements or head position instead of video cameras.

While Tesla does not use the in-car cameras to alert the driver to potential safety concerns, the company does use a real-time driver-engagement tool via steering wheel inputs that analyze the amount of pressure put on the wheel to keep drivers alert.

Consumer Reports said the steering wheel inputs can be easily tricked. “Just because a driver’s hands are on the wheel doesn’t mean their attention is on the road,” said Kelly Funkhouser, program manager for vehicle interface testing at Consumer Reports. Fisher told Insider in-car cameras could help save a lot of lives.

Tesla drivers can opt-out of sharing the in-car videos via their control settings and the Cabin Camera is disabled by default. According to Tesla’s site, the camera will only turn on before a crash or automatic emergency braking (AEB) activation.

China has also expressed concern regarding cameras on Tesla cars. In March, China banned Tesla cars in military complexes due to concerns about the company monitoring drivers via the car’s cameras.

In response, Musk said on Twitter that the company would be shut down if it was spying on Chinese officials.

While Tesla’s Model 3 made the Consumer Reports’ “Top Picks” list last year, the publication removed its recommendation for the Model S, citing issues with its suspension and electronics. Consumer Reports also criticized Tesla’s Model Y in November for body hardware and paint issues.

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Elon Musk says some Tesla drivers were removed from beta tests for its Full Self-Driving software for not paying attention to the road

esla head Elon Musk arrives to have a look at the construction site of the new Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin on September 03, 2020 near Gruenheide, Germany.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company pulled access for some Full Self-Driving software testers.
  • Tesla “revoked beta where drivers did not pay sufficient attention to the road,” Musk said.
  • On Friday, CNBC reported NTSB chair Robert Sumwalt sought new requirements for public testing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Friday said the carmaker had expanded the public testing pool for its Full Self-Driving software to about 2,000 vehicle owners but also revoked access for drivers who didn’t pay close attention to the road.

Tesla “revoked beta where drivers did not pay sufficient attention to the road,” Musk said on Twitter late Friday. “No accidents to date.”

Musk didn’t offer further details about how many drivers have lost access, or how Tesla made decisions about pulling access. Insider has reached out to the company for comment.

Musk’s statement followed a Friday report saying the National Transportation Safety Board chairman called for increased scrutiny of self-driving software.

On Friday, CNBC reported that NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt had in February sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking for updated requirements for carmakers testing software like Tesla’s on public roads.

Sumwalt’s letter mentioned Tesla by name 16 times, as CNBC reported. He wrote that Tesla was testing its software on public roads “with limited oversight or reporting requirements.”

He added: “Although Tesla includes a disclaimer that ‘currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous,’ NHTSA’s hands-off approach to oversight of [automated vehicle] testing poses a potential risk to motorists and other road users.”

A week ago, Musk said Tesla would double the size of its public beta testing program for version 8.2 of its software. “Still be careful, but it’s getting mature,” he said.

He added that he expected the beta testing program to expand tenfold for software version 8.3, which would be released in “probably two or three weeks.” On Friday, he said the next “significant release will be in April.”

A cache of emails between Tesla and California regulators were made public by a transparency advocacy group, PlainSite, on Friday.

In the emails, a Tesla lawyer said the company had “made it abundantly clear” to beta testers that the system “does not make the vehicle autonomous and that the driver is responsible for being fully attentive at all times.”

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Elon Musk says Tesla will double its Full Self-Driving software’s beta program. It comes amid news that Ford’s Mustang Mach-E is eating into Tesla’s US sales.

Tesla
A Tesla supercharger station at Burbank town center.

  • CEO Elon Musk said Tesla would double a beta testing program for its Full Self-Driving software.
  • “Still be careful, but it’s getting mature,” Musk said.
  • The news comes amid reports that a Ford rival is eating into Tesla’s lead in the EV market.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Friday said the carmaker would double a beta testing program for its self-driving software. The news comes amid reports that Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E seems to be eating into Tesla’s lead in the electric vehicle market. 

On Twitter, Musk said:“If you want the Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta downloaded to your car, let us know.”

The beta drivers will be testing version 8.2 of the company’s Full Self-Driving software, said Musk. Last week, the CEO said version 8.1 “normally drives me around with no interventions.” The next version will be “a big step change beyond that.”

“Still be careful, but it’s getting mature,” he added on Friday. 

Musk also said he expected the beta program to be “probably” 10 times larger by the time the company tests its version 8.3 software. Version 8.3 has “literally ~1000 improvements” from the previous version, he tweeted, adding it “will take time to QA internally before release probably in two or three weeks.”

Tesla has an ever-growing number of electric vehicle rivals, and while Ford sold only 3,739 of the new SUVs in February, Tesla’s share of the US electric-car market fell to 69% in the same month. This was down from 81% in the prior year, a Morgan Stanley report found. What’s more, the Mustang accounted for nearly all of Tesla’s market-share losses, the bank said. 

Tesla’s beta testers will be trying out the company’s Full Self-Driving software. One beta user posted a video of his Tesla driving 358 miles, from Los Angeles to Silicon Valley, without the driver intervening. 

The company had plans to launch the autopilot software as a subscription service this year. Musk said this month that it would “for sure” launch before July. 

Waymo CEO, John Krafcik, in January said Tesla’s software can’t compete with Waymo’s autonomous software. Tesla’s building cars with assisted driving, while Waymo’s building cars that don’t need drivers at all, he said. 

“So no Tesla is not a competitor at all. They’re a car company making a driver assist system. We’re a company making a fully autonomous driver,” Krafcik said.

Musk shot back on Twitter, saying Tesla had “better AI hardware and software than Waymo.” 

 

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