If you’re into Tesla or just autonomous vehicles in general, then chances are you’re watching the content coming out of the FSD beta group, pretty closely.
These videos shared online provide a great insight into the current abilities and limitations of Tesla’s Full Self Driving, computer-vision-based solution.
Since the FSD beta was released on October 22nd and since then there’s been a number of incremental improvements.
According to a post by Musk today, there’s a new build set for release next week that is pretty special. On the surface, that doesn’t tell us too much, but he goes on to say there’s a lot of fundamental improvements.
As we know the big advancement with FSD is the ability for the car to take corners on it’s own and navigate unmarked city streets. A possible explanation for the ‘fundamental improvements’ could be the the car’s ability to better resolve the lane merging and nailing the lane selection which has been great, but not perfect.
Musk continued to hint at what’s coming in next week’s release, including the statement that ‘entire new areas of functionality’ are on their way.
To me, this suggests we start looking at what FSD beta isn’t capable of today. While the car has a really great ability to navigate highways, city streets, the ability to go park itself is certainly not there and is a key omission in the ability for Tesla’s to deliver an end-to-end trip without interventions.
In many of the video’s I’ve watched from FSD beta participants, we see the driver take over once they reach their destination. What I’d like to see is for the car to navigate to the destination selected, then identify a park and pull into it. At first, they may find this easier to do in car parks, or into your driveway, but eventually will need to do it on street-side parking.
Another important aspect of this is the second half of Smart Summon. Right now this feature can navigate the car from a park to pick you up and we’ve seen videos of FSD beta improvements where it stays on the correct side of the road.
The natural extension to this, is where you get out of your car, close to the entrance of a shopping center and the car goes to find a park without you. At some point, it’ll also need to tackle multi-story carparks, but I feel that’s further down the to-do-list.
Naturally, with this exciting progress being made in autonomy, anyone with a Tesla and who has purchased the FSD package is really keen to get access to the FSD beta, so it’s great to see Elon talking of an expanded rollout.
Musk has previously spoken about Canada and Norway being on the list to get access next, so this could be the first international expansion, showing Tesla are gaining confidence in the ability of the platform in the run to the end of 2020.
Unfortunately it looks like Australians are unlikely to get an FSDbeta-sized Christmas gift under the tree on December 25th, so look for it early 2021.
Below is a recent video from Tesla Owners Silicon Valley who captures a time-lapse of his FSD beta experience on the way to McDonalds.
Here’s another recent example from Whole Mrs Catalog that shows how the FSD beta is able to navigate very tight, metro streets, a very complex environment with lots of pedestrians.