Elon Musk had been tweeting about an upcoming beta software for full self-driving since last September, but that beta has only been deployed now. It was released over the weekend, something the billionaire had indicated last week.
The v9 edition of its FSD beta has been trained on a supercomputer called “Dojo“. This system solely depends on the cameras and sensors on Tesla vehicles – a system announced as Tesla Vision. According to Elon Musk, this update is a dramatic improvement over AutoPilot, the ADAS system that Musk has hyped as a self-driving solution. Interestingly, AutoPilot used radars as well, but with Tesla Vision, computer vision algorithms are trained on supercomputers including a new one which the automaker believes could be the 5th fastest in the world.
What’s interesting is that Tesla doesn’t talk much about what’s improved but rather for once, is being quite diligent in informing its users that this system is still decidedly beta software. The company notes in the release notes that come with the software update:
“Full Self-Driving is in early limited access Beta and must be used with additional caution. It may do the wrong thing at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road. Do not become complacent. When Full Self-Driving is enabled your vehicle will make lane changes off-highway, select forks to follow your navigation route, navigate around other vehicles and objects, and make a left and right turn. Use Full Self-Driving in limited BETA only if you will pay constant attention to the road, and be prepared to act immediately, especially around blind corners, crossing intersections, and in narrow driving situations.“
Recently, Musk described the new interface which made its debut first on the new Tesla Model S Plaid, as the “mind of car” interface. This interface is also slated to come to the Model 3 and Y. Right now it is shipping this feature to its higher-end vehicles, the Model S and X. The company commented in the release notes describing the new feature:
“The driving visualisation has been improved to better support Full Self-Driving capabilities. When Full Self-Driving is engaged, the instrument panel will display an expanded visualisation to show additional surrounding information. The apps from the instrument panel will be temporarily dismissed and the driving speed, Autopilot availability, Autopilot set speed and detected speed limit will move to the bottom of the instrument panel.”
Right now this beta programme is still not open to all Tesla users, but instead, it counts around 2,000 users. Mind you, this number also includes a number of Tesla employees. For once, even Musk reiterates the need to always be “paranoid” while using this feature. He, however, has been saying that is a leap forward in self-driving technology, something that’s achieved through impressive on-device processing capabilities with things like the Tesla self-driving chips, algorithms being trained on supercomputers and data collected from the wealth of Tesla cars that are already on the road. Musk believes this is a scalable approach instead of a system that involves expensive hardware like LiDARs and radars and then road tests – something which many self-driving companies are pursuing.
Despite this, Musk and his team reiterate that the FSD v9 update may do the wrong thing at the worst time. Though, the company claims that most known issues are addressed, though since it is beta software there could be unknown issues which is why people need to be careful. Many videos of the new FSD v9 update have popped up on YouTube which shows how it operates; most people have been underwhelmed.