Electric vehicle maker Tesla is poised to add a long-awaited download button to its controversial FSD beta program that would allow customers to get new, unfinished versions of the company’s driver assistance software to test on public roads, even though that software isn’t yet was still debugged.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who described an earlier version of the FSD beta software as “not great,” warned Friday night that the FSD beta now appears so good it can give drivers a false sense of security that you no longer have to be careful while driving FSD Beta is engaged, although you have to stay alert and behind the wheel.
Tesla and CEO Musk didn’t immediately respond to CNBC for comment.
Tesla markets its driver assistance systems in a standard package called Autopilot and a premium package called FSD, short for Full Self-Driving in the USA. None of these systems make Tesla’s cars autonomous, according to the company’s manuals and website.
Musk has been promising an FSD beta button to his fans for at least six months. On March 9, 2021, he wrote, “Build 8.3 of FSD should be QA testing by the end of next week, so roughly the download button should appear.”
The CEO also announced Thursday that Tesla must first prove that owners who use the upcoming beta button are good drivers before they can gain access to their FSD beta download.
Musk wrote: “The beta button requests permission to evaluate driving behavior with the Tesla insurance calculator. If the driving behavior is good for 7 days, beta access will be granted. ”(The company began selling insurance in its home state of California in August 2019.)
Tesla board member Hiromichi Mizuno shared Musk’s announcement, heralding the company’s approach, writing on Friday, “You have to be a good driver not to drive, which may become a new norm.”
Musk replied to Mizuno Friday night:
“Ironically, yes at this point. The FSD beta system can sometimes seem so good that vigilance isn’t required, but it is. Plus, any beta user who isn’t particularly careful will boot for a year with no accidents. It has to stay.”
Musk’s tweet contradicts the facts about the FSD beta program provided in the March 2021 memo of the Autonomous Vehicles Branch of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
The head of the DMV’s Autonomous Vehicles Branch, Miguel Acosta, who wrote the memo, spoke to Tesla employees that day, including Associate General Counsel Eric Williams and Autopilot Software Director CJ Moore.
Acosta wrote that they informed him of the March 9, 2021 FSD beta program, which included 753 Tesla employees and 71 non-employees – less than half of the 2,000 FSD beta users Musk has in his Tweet alluded to on Friday.
CNBC received directly the memo and other correspondence between Tesla and the Californian DMV previously published by Plainsite, a legal transparency website.
In their correspondence, Tesla even characterized their latest FSD beta features as level 2 driver assistance system rather than completely driverless technology.