Tesla rolling out ‘Full Self-Driving’ update to owners with high safety score
Tesla is rolling out a ‘Full Self-Driving’ update to drivers it deems safe, even though the car giant is currently being probed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over multiple autopilot crashes, two of them deadly.
The update, unveiled by Tesla boss Elon Musk last week, works in neighborhoods and city streets, allowing drivers to navigate their cars from Point A to Point B, ideally with no driver interventions.
Tesla’s more basic autopilot feature, found on all its cars, enables the car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its lane, with the firm insisting that drivers should keep their hands on the wheel at all times when using autopilot and Full Self-Driving.
Full Self-Driving is available to drivers with high safety scores, with those scores decided by giving the firm permission to monitor their driving using in-car software.
Musk made the announcement October 7, tweeting: ‘FSD Beta 10.2 rolls out Friday midnight to ~1000 owners with perfect 100/100 safety scores. Rollouts will hold for several days after that to see how it goes. If that looks good, beta will gradually begin rolling out to 99 scores & below’
YouTuber Jeremy Judkins shared a clip of himself trying out Full Self-Driving, and admits turning a corner in his Tesla while in the new mode made him feel anxious
New Yorker Jean Louis, pictured, was struck and killed by a Tesla while changing a car tire in Long Island in July. His death has been added to an ongoing probe by the NTHSB into crashes linked to Tesla’s autopilot software
The aftermath of the smash that killed Louis is pictured, with an attorney hired by his wife condemning the rollout of Full Self-Driving
He shared another update October 9, writing: ‘A few last minute concerns about this build. Release likely on Sunday or Monday. Sorry for the delay.’
And on October 11 he added: ‘A few last minute concerns about this build. Release likely on Sunday or Monday. Sorry for the delay.
Select Tesla drivers then gained access to the software this week.
One of them was YouTuber Jeremy Judkins, who shared a video of himself testing out Full Self-Driving on his car Monday.
He was noticeably nervous as the car took its first corner in the new mode, and said afterwards: ‘That was a little wild, the wheel was a little wild. It gave me a little bit of anxiety.’
And a Tesla worker claims the scoring criteria used to select drivers to try out the new software has flaws.
Braking sees drivers penalized, with many saying there’s now an incentive to gun their Tesla through yellow lights, instead of stopping in anticipation of a red.
Sharp turns also see a safety score hit – with drivers in densely-populated areas like New York at a disadvantage compared to those living in areas with widely-spaced, quiet roads like Kansas.
Tesla wants to test the software on safe drivers in the hopes it will ‘learn’ good habits from safe drivers, rather than people who behave dangerously behind the wheel, and who could influence their software to do the same.
Full Self-Driving was unveiled as the NHTSA continues to investigate 12 different crashes – two of them fatal – involving Teslas running on the firm’s autopilot software.
Many of those smashes have involved Teslas slamming into emergency responder vehicles, sparking speculation that flashing lights may confuse the Teslas’ sensors which help operate the self-driving software.
Musk’s announcement has seen him condemned for using the general public as guinea pigs, with one New York woman whose husband died after a Tesla Model Y hit him in July, blasting the firm for ‘outsourcing testing.’
Tesla has previously rolled out ‘Ludicrous’ and ‘Insane’ modes on its cars, which let drivers accelerate extremely rapidly, and have been condemned for encouraging drag racing
‘They outsourced the testing to total nonprofessionals and fans,’ said Joshua Brian Irwin, attorney for Bernadette Saint Jean, whose husband, Jean Louis, was killed on New York’s Long Island Expressway in July when a Tesla using automated features struck him on the side of the road while he changed a tire.
‘Of course they’re going to figure out how to hack the scoring system and cover up the AI’s flaws.’
Tesla previously raised eyebrows after unveiling ‘Ludicrous’ and ‘Insane’ modes on its cars, which let drivers accelerate extremely rapidly, and which some critics say encouraged drag racing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal government agency designed to oversee transportation safety in the United States and prevent vehicle-related crashes, are currently investigating the crash.
Jean Louis’s death joins 11 other accidents they are probing, including a December 2019 smash in Indiana which saw young mom Jenna Monet die of her injuries.
Meanwhile, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy told The Washington Post last month that she was worried Tesla was rolling out new features without addressing the Board’s prior safety recommendations.
They include limiting the use of automated features to the conditions for which they were designed and developing better driver monitoring.
The company says that the emphasis on drivers meeting the aforementioned safety criteria and caution as to the update’s wider release was meant to ensure that the feature only gets granted to the safest of road users – but others argue the criteria encourages the opposite.
‘The lesson of Safety Score Beta is to gun every yellow light,’ wrote one Twitter user hours after the update’s release, adding that if drivers do not slow their car considerably before coming to a stop, ‘you’re gonna get dinged for hard braking.’
HISTORY OF FIRST RESPONDER CRASHES CAUSED BY TESLA AUTOPILOT
January 22, 2018 in Culver City: A Tesla Model S hit the back of a fire truck parked at an accident in Culver City around 8:30 am on Interstate 405 using the cars Autopilot system. The Tesla, which was going 65mph, suffered ‘significant damage’ and the firetruck was taken out of service for body work.
May 30, 2018 in Laguna Beach: Authorities said a Tesla sedan in Autopilot mode crashed into a parked police cruiser in Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Jim Cota says the officer was not in the cruiser during the crash. He said the Tesla driver suffered minor injuries.
The police SUV ended up with its two passenger-side wheels on a sidewalk.
December 7, 2019 in Norwalk, CT: A 2018 Tesla Model 3 on Interstate 95 in Norwalk, Connecticut using the Autopilot driver assistance system rear-ended a parked police car.
December 29, 2019 in Cloverdale, IN: A 2019 Tesla on Interstate 70 in Cloverdale, Indiana hit the back of a parked firetruck.
The Tesla driver, Derrick Monet, and his wife, Jenna Monet, both suffered serious injuries and were transported to the hospital for immediate medical care. Jenna ultimately succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead at Terre Haute Regional Hospital.
June 30, 2020 in West Bridgewater, MA: A Weston, Massachusetts man driving a Tesla hit a Massachusetts State Police cruiser that was stopped in the left lane of Route 24 in West Bridgewater. A trooper who was on the scene reported that the driver, Nicholas Ciarlone, faced a negligent driving charge and was arraigned in September 2020.
July 15, 2020 in Conchise County, AZ: A Tesla Model S hit an Arizona Department of Public Safety patrol car, resulting in the patrol car rear-ending an ambulance that was on the scene of an earlier car accident. No one was seriously injured, but the Tesla driver was taken to the hospital for injuries.
August 26, 2020 in Charlotte, NC: A Tesla driver watching a movie crashed into a Nash County Sherriff’s Office deputy vehicle in Charlotte, North Carolina on US 64 west.
The driver, Devainder Goli, of Raleigh, was accused of violating the move-over law and watching television while operating a vehicle.
February 27, 2021 in Montgomery County, TX: The driver of a Tesla rear-ended a police cruise during a traffic stop in Montgomery County, Texas. Five deputy constables were injured during the accident, which happened around 1:15 am on Eastex Freeway near East River Road.
The Tesla driver was not injured, but was taken into custody on a DWI charge.
March 17, 2021 in Lansing, MI: A Tesla on autopilot crashed into a Michigan State Police car. Troopers from the Lansing Post had been investigating a crash involving a car and a deer on I-96 near Waverly Rd in Eaton County at around 1:12am.
While investigating the crash, a Tesla driving on autopilot struck the patrol car, which had its emergency lights on.
Neither the driver of the Tesla – a 22-year-old man from Lansing – nor the troopers were injured at the scene. Police issued the unidentified man a citation for failure to move over and driving while license suspended.
May 15, 2021 in Arlington, WA: A Tesla driving in Arlington, Washington hit a police vehicle that resulted in ‘significant damage’ to the police car.
There were no injuries reported from the incident.
May 19, 2021: Three people were hospitalized after a Tesla hit a parked Miami-Dade County Department Transportation Road Ranger truck that was blocking the left lane of I-95 to help clear the debris of an earlier crash.
The driver of the Tesla was transported to a nearby hospital with with severe, albeit non-life-threatening, injuries.