This afternoon Elon Musk has confirmed what many in the Tesla community have been waiting for, the next release of the FSD Beta program. The release of FSD Beta 9 has seen many delays, recently turning into a meme, often being said to be ‘two weeks’ away.
The reality is this beta release of Tesla’s Full Self Driving Package, should be the most significant we’ve seen. It has been many months since the group of up to 2,000 beta testers received their last update, and from communication online from Musk, we know plans to expand that group of testers.
Along with Beta 9, we are likely to see the much awaited ‘button’, which should be available in the service menu (for select regions) that enable you to join the beta program and get this new FSD Beta 9 build.
With the existing FSD Beta capable of navigating city streets, including roundabouts and making left and right turns, it’ll be interesting to see what new improvements arrive in this next release.
According to Elon, there will be an improved FSD screen, attempting to show the “mind” of the car. This suggests that the current visuals will be significantly updated, moving beyond this almost developer view of what the car can see, to really convey to the users what the car is perceiving about the environment around it.
This release should also include a dramatic change to the architecture of how the vision system works. Tesla are clearly very confident in the car’s ability to navigate based on vision alone, demonstrated by their recent decision to remove radar and use vision for depth perception.
Today’s confirmation of the timeline for delivery, comes in response to a tweet by Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley.
This was followed to clarify end of week, means Saturday. Given this is Saturday in the US, we can expect the flood of YouTube videos on Sunday Australian time.
This progressed achieved in the FSD beta 9.0 release will be important to understand the potential for Tesla to deliver a ‘feature complete’ FSD by the end of 2021. Feature complete refers to the FSD system being able to perform all functions necessary for level 5 autonomy.
As an example, the FSD Package description on Tesla’s website, states that the car will be able to drop you off and go park. Today, no part of Smart Summon, a part of the FSD package, offers that functionality. This has clearly not been a development focus to date, but would need to be, to be declare it ‘feature complete’.
Feature complete is simply the first benchmark, it doesn’t mean the system works perfectly, but would have a better than zero chance of getting you from home to work without intervention. When we’ll be able to do actually take our hands off the wheel will another interesting milestone, but there is movement in that area, with Tesla slowly implementing driver monitoring which could potentially replace the need to provide torque to the wheel every 30 seconds or so.
Assuming things go well with this release, it is expected at in the coming months, that those owners who have purchased the FSD package, who are not in the beta program, would receive this functionality.
Version 11 of the software for non-beta members should also be on the way, with some of the UI improvements we seen in the release of the refreshed Model S.
In other Tesla-related news, the Model Y Standard Range is also now available for order in China, following the SR Model Y we seen offered in Hong Kong last week.