Tesla CEO Elon Musk has laid out a rough plan for expanding access to Full Self-Driving (FSD), the company’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), across North America and the rest of the world.
“Once FSD is super smooth (not just secure), we will roll out a free trial month for all cars in North America,” Musk said tweeted Monday. “Then expand to the rest of the world after we make sure it works well on local roads and regulators approve it in that country.”
Despite what the name might suggest, FSD does not allow a car to be fully self-driving. The latest version of the beta software automates some driving tasks on both freeways and city streets, but still requires the driver to remain alert and take control of the vehicle at all times.
Musk hasn’t given a specific timeline for expanding access to FSD beyond North America, where the $15,000 add-on has been available “to anyone who requests it” since November. The executive also didn’t elaborate on why Tesla would introduce a free one-month trial for all Tesla vehicles on the continent, but the reason is likely twofold.
FSD, powered by Deep Neural Networks, is technically still in beta. This means that training and improving requires tons of data. By rolling out FSD to every Tesla in North America, even if it’s just for a month, the automaker can collect another big chunk of driving data while drumming up hype about the software and its capabilities — the Tesla equivalent of a free edition Flavor of ice cream to make you buy a scoop.
“We test as much as possible in simulation and with [quality assurance] drivers, but the reality is far more complex,” Musk said tweeted over the weekend, along with the news that the latest version of FSD will be shipping to Tesla employees this week.
The executive also teased features for the next version of FSD, which said Musk would have “end-to-end AI”.
Outside of North America, Tesla has been limited in its ability to allow drivers access to FSD due to stricter regulations. Drivers only have access to Autopilot, Tesla’s standard ADAS that includes features like in-lane auto-steering, auto-braking, and auto-route on/off navigation, but it’s a recall version. FSD is still not allowed on public roads.
However, the European Commission took some steps in the last month to speed up the regulation of ADAS. The Commission is aiming to have the new regulation fully presented by September 2024, with the option of both an earlier deadline and pre-deployment testing of systems.
In Asian markets like China, where Tesla Autopilot is available to drivers, there have been recent reports that the automaker will soon begin large-scale FSD testing.
The possible widespread adoption comes as FSD and Autopilot have landed the automaker in hot water in recent years. The systems have been the subject of numerous lawsuits and federal investigations, including a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice. The family of an Apple engineer who died in a car accident while allegedly on autopilot is currently a hot topic, and Musk will likely have to take a stand to defend his comments about the system’s capabilities.