Tesla ‘Full Self-Driving beta’ released but drivers must pay constant attention to the road

Controversial move by Californian EV maker follows criticism from road safety experts of the naming of its driver assistance systems

Tesla has begun to roll out what it terms a ‘beta’ version of its ‘Full Self-Driving’ technology to a few select customers in America.

The limited release of the software and hardware brings with it several warnings, however, including that the system “may do the wrong thing at the worst time”, and therefore drivers must ‘keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road”. 

Despite these caveats, and the inclusion of the word ‘beta’ to indicate the technology is still in development, Tesla still refers to it as ‘Full Self-Driving’, or FSD. 

The naming of driver assistance systems has come under close scrutiny recently, with Euro NCAP now assessing how systems such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assistance are marketed to customers. Earlier this year, ‘Autopilot’ -Tesla’s name for its versions of these systems - was deemed “especially misleading” by NCAP board member Matthew Avery.

Safety concerns over ‘self-driving’ tech

Car makers, Governments, transport and safety groups have been unpicking the problems posed by driver-assistance technology for some years. Safety bodies are adamant that any systems that require drivers to monitor the road environment and oversee a car’s operation are merely ‘assistive’, and should not be named or marketed in a manner that could lead drivers to believe the car is capable of driving itself. 

A photograph shared on Twitter by one of the select few trialling Tesla’s FSD technology shows what appears to be a Tesla screen. This warns that although the FSD system “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’, drivers “must not become complacent” and should “be prepared to act immediately, especially around blind corners, crossings, intersections, and in narrow driving situations.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has not explained how or why a technology - even one in limited beta-mode release - that requires drivers to pay constant attention to the road is classed as ‘full self-driving’ system, though he promised its roll out would be “extremely slow and cautious, as it should.” He followed that up, however, with news that from Monday 26 November the FSD option would increase in cost by around $2,000 (£1,524) in the US.

Read more about self-driving car technology here

Recommended

Tesla applies for UK electricity provider licence
Electric cars

Tesla applies for UK electricity provider licence

The American EV manufacturer is preparing to build a new UK energy company, based on the battery technology used in its electric vehicles
4 May 2020
New Tesla steering wheel is legal in the UK
Tesla steering wheel
Tesla

New Tesla steering wheel is legal in the UK

The Department for Transport has confirmed that Tesla’s unusual steering control will pass through UK safety regulations
5 Feb 2021
'Other brands should be a bit more Tesla’
Opinion Tesla steering wheel
Opinion

'Other brands should be a bit more Tesla’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks Tesla should be praised for its original approach to selling cars
3 Feb 2021
Tesla infotainment system recall extended to UK cars
Tesla recall
News

Tesla infotainment system recall extended to UK cars

Customers are reportedly being prevented from using certain safety features, leading regulators to push for Tesla recall
3 Feb 2021

Most Popular

New 2021 Volvo C40 joins brand’s electric car line-up
Volvo C40 - front
Volvo C40

New 2021 Volvo C40 joins brand’s electric car line-up

The new Volvo C40 Recharge will take on electric car rivals such as the Tesla Model 3 and forthcoming Audi Q4 e-tron
2 Mar 2021
New Audi e-tron GT 2021 review
Audi e-tron GT - front
Audi e-tron GT

New Audi e-tron GT 2021 review

The tech-packed Audi e-tron GT EV is a landmark model for the German brand
2 Mar 2021
'Genesis’s aim is to lure Jaguar Land Rover customers'
Genesis
Opinion

'Genesis’s aim is to lure Jaguar Land Rover customers'

Mike Rutherford thinks luxury brand Genesis could take sales away from Jaguar Land Rover when it lands in the UK
1 Mar 2021