At first, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had only announced a twenty-fold increase in the number of participants in the ongoing beta test for the latest version of the autopilot system, but now he seems to have decided on a complete release: At the weekend, Musk said Tesla would be short term program a new “download beta” button in the vehicle menu – and now confirmed when asked that it will be able to be used to get the software for the beta test installed the next time it is connected to a WLAN network.
Tesla inundated with FSD inquiries
The beta software is called FSD (Tesla’s abbreviation for full self-driving, i.e. autonomous driving) and has been tested since October 2020 with an initially very limited group of participants. At the end of January, Musk put the number at around 1,000, although it is not clear whether it also includes internal testers like himself. Last weekend he announced a doubling with the next FSD version and again tenfold with the next but one version 8.3.
Because Musk asked to contact Tesla if one wanted to take the FSD test, the contact channels including Musk’s Twitter account were then inundated with inquiries and applications. Soon afterwards, Tesla’s AI boss Andrej Karpathy, who was also affected, published an email address for it. And CEO Musk announced that the download button would be programmed within the next ten days.
At first it remained open whether the new menu item really enables direct participation in the beta program or just an application for it. Musk answered this question after several inquiries on Tuesday night: If the respective user acknowledges the warning notices and confirms to drive carefully, the coveted software will be installed on the next WiFi connection. The Tesla boss explained that it was the latest quality-tested beta version of FSD, placing the “beta” in quotation marks.
So everyone who wants should be able to participate in the beta test in the near future. Musk also gave an approximate date for the download button and the associated FSD version 8.3: The quality assurance for the software will probably be completed at the end of next week, and around then the menu expansion will also come.
Musk wants to “ask regulators” for Europe
That should mean that Tesla owners will wait even more eagerly than usual for a software update. Immediately after installation, they could then press the beta button to load the FSD software as well – and then get their first experience with it. However, the system is not yet really autonomous: the testers to date have reported good and in some cases impressive FSD results, but not without errors; Legally, the person behind the wheel is still responsible, not Tesla.
However, the entire FSD event has so far only taken place in the USA. Even the expansion of FSD into neighboring Canada is not without problems, Musk said in between, but is planned next. At first, he did not answer questions from European Tesla owners, but the even greater differences in road traffic to the USA suggest that Europe will only have its turn after Canada. And on Tuesday, the Tesla boss indirectly confirmed this assumption: “We will ask the regulators,” he wrote to a Twitter user who requested a beta button for Europe. That doesn’t sound like an imminent FSD start, because the current Tesla autopilot had to be cut here due to regulatory requirements.