Tesla is expanding its “full self-driving” (FSD) beta software “to anyone in North America who requests it from the car’s screen,” according to CEO Elon Musk who tweeted out the news late Wednesday afternoon. The continent-wide rollout of FSD comes as Tesla could face a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice over false claims related to the company’s advanced Autopilot driver assistance system.
Autopilot comes standard on Tesla vehicles and performs automated driving functions such as automatic steering, acceleration and braking. FSD, which costs North American drivers $15,000, is an extension of Autopilot that includes features such as assisted steering on highways and city streets, intelligent vehicle summoning, automatic parking and recognition and response to traffic lights and stop signs.
Autopilot, and therefore FSD, has come under scrutiny from regulators in recent years following a series of Tesla crashes, many of which were fatal. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened special investigations into 36 Autopilot-related Tesla crashes since 2016, five of which occurred this year. Tesla has also come under fire from the California Department of Motor Vehicles and drivers who claim the company falsely advertised Autopilot and FSD self-driving capabilities.
Some Tesla owners and enthusiasts predicted the company may allow FSD into all cars after Tesla appears to have dropped the requirement for 100 miles on Autopilot and a safety score of at least 80 to get the FSD update. This is a cause for concern with a lack of scrutiny and the fear that drivers using ADAS are less likely to look at the road and be alert in case the system malfunctions. Tesla’s website encourages drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
Despite concerns, any driver who paid the steep price for Tesla’s FSD will already be able to access the software in North America. Tesla previously expanded FSD access to 160,000 owners in the US and Canada in September, and today’s widespread rollout is in line with previous promises from Musk to get FSD in every Tesla by the end of 2022 .
Musk claimed that Tesla could achieve fully self-driving by the end of the year, but the company’s third-quarter earnings acknowledged that FSD would not get regulatory approval to drive without someone behind the wheel in 2022. The move to expand the One of the reasons why Tesla has now chosen to expand may be the number of users and perhaps giving the Tesla Dojo supercomputer more data to work with.
It could also be a measure to ease the concerns of investors and get additional income. Tesla’s stock is at a two-year low and its market cap has shrunk from $1.2 trillion last November to $574 billion today after Musk bought out Twitter and the drama that followed the company’s overhaul.
The FSD scaling also follows news from Tesla engineers Romi Phadte and Gabe Gheorghian who spoke at BazelCon this week and shared that the number of FSD simulations per week has increased from around 250,000 in 2020 to 2 million today by Tesla.