FSD beta was released last month to a very small group of early access users in the US. Since then we’ve seen two updates, the most recent significantly improving the smoothness and confidence with which the car navigates city streets.
Today we learn a little more about the expansion of the FSD beta rollout, with Elon posting that both Canada and Norway would be added to the list of countries that have it, once the Full Self Driving beta is out of early beta.
Early beta is a reference to the Early Access Program, a small group of users that assist with testing and providing detailed feedback on bugs. This feedback loop with a small group of users ensures most of the big issues are ironed out before it goes to a wider group of users, although still labelled with the beat tag.
While the amount of people who can publicly share content on FSD beta still remains somewhere between 12 and 20, the overall early access group which are typically under non-disclosure agreements (NDA) are believed to be a couple of thousand in size.
So this begs the question, why Norway?
I think we can all understand that Canada is a logical place to expand to, given its proximity to the US, and the fact they use many of the same road signs, road markings etc.
Norway on the other hand is pretty different. Norway is incredibly progressive when it comes to EV adoption, with a massive 60% of new car sales being electric in September this year.
This decision to prioritise Norway also looks to be a reflection of how advanced and supportive their legislators are. Almost 3 years ago, on December 15, 2017, the Norwegian Parliament passed new legislation that allowed experiments with self-driving vehicles on public roads.
This should serve as a strong indication to Governments and regulators around the world that the autonomous vehicles of the future that will eliminate the road toll, can only happen if you act now. The earlier we have the framework in place to support autonomous vehicles, the more lives that can be saved.
While I appreciate Norway’s on the front end of the adoption curve, I would like to challenge Tesla to tackle a Right-Hand Drive market like Australia.
Navigating turns from the opposite side of the road will really test how robust the system is and prove the global possibilities of the technology. The car’s sensor suite is symmetrical, so it has the same opportunity to work, however, there are a lot fewer Tesla’s here, so I’d be interested to know if there’s a minimum km of data required before this is possible.
When Musk talks about FSD and the timelines for software updates, it’s often done without region-specific caveats, suggesting that it’s a global rollout. Until now, most updates, where local laws permit, have been international, albeit a little delayed.
While it is possible we see FSD beta released to the world in late 2020 or early 2021, it seems much more likely we’re seeing a fracturing of the software releases, tailored much more to each country.
I say tackle the hard problems first, a little like eating your vegetables before the steak. Once LHD and RHD markets are solved for, then the rest will seem like a breeze and places Tesla in a great position to deliver exponential improvements towards full autonomy.
If you are an Australian regulator in the vehicle/road safety space, I encourage you to run, not walk, towards setting the requirements for level 3/4/5 autonomy on our roads.