November 28, 2022
The news was announced by CEO Elon Musk on Twitter, who said the driver assistance tech was “now available to anyone in North America who requests it from the car screen” – assuming, of course, they have bought FSD as an option, a purchase that currently costs $15,000.
Previously, FSD – essentially an extension of Tesla’s Autopilot tech – had only been available to drivers who had what the company regarded as a high safety score. The ‘safety score’ is Tesla’s assessment of owners’ driving behavior assessed on several metrics, and how it is established is explained on the company website.
When FSD was launched in 2021, Musk said it would be “limited to a small number of people who are expert and careful drivers.” But over time this has been relaxed, and on the latest release, the requirements were for at least 100 Autopilot miles and a safety score of 80.
Now even these have been dispensed with, and anyone who was previously not considered “safe” enough to use FSD will be able to as long as they are prepared to pay, which will inevitably alarm some given the controversy the tech has attracted this year.
FSD delivers more advanced functionality than Autopilot, such as automated steering in cities, automatic parking, smart vehicle summoning and traffic light/stop sign recognition.
But Tesla’s tech has faced intense scrutiny over the past 12 months following a series of high-profile incidents.
The Full Self Driving name, for a start, has been heavily criticized with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles filing official complaints that Tesla had falsely advertised the tech and “made or disseminated statements that are untrue or misleading, and not based on facts.”
In October it was reported that the United States Department of Justice was considering a criminal investigation into the matter.
FSD does not deliver full-self driving, and there is concern that it is encouraging complacency among owners – although the Tesla website does make clear it is “intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel, and is prepared to take over at any moment.” It adds: “The currently enabled features do not make the vehicle autonomous.”
The tech is also being probed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which escalated an investigation into several crashes of cars running Autopilot and first responder vehicles, and is also looking at a host of fatal crashes involving Teslas.
Now, though, Musk’s announcement means FSD will be more widely available than ever before – although exactly how many cars will be running it is unclear.
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