According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, over 100,000 drivers are part of the automaker's Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta testing program. He also reiterated that Tesla will solve FSD before the end of the year.
We'll start by saying, if you haven't watched the Elon Musk interview above, you should carve out some time to check it out. The recently published TED talk interview with Chris Anderson is honestly one of the better interviews we've seen of late. There is loads of information to take in.
One juicy morsel found in the interview was a comment Musk made about Tesla's Full Self-Driving Beta technology. As you may remember, Musk said earlier this year that he'll be shocked if Tesla isn't finished with FSD by the end of 2022. He's made this claim before, though not during a time that the technology was launched to a huge fleet of beta testers. If FSD is "finished" before the end of 2022, all drivers who have paid for the technology will likely gain access to it.
Tesla has been slowly rolling out the FSD Beta technology to owners so they can test it in real-world driving. At first, the company only allowed a small group of people to test the system, and it chose those people based on its in-house Safety Score, which it's also using as a component of its in-house insurance program. It has since been expanding the program significantly.
Anderson asked Musk about his FSD timeline. More specifically, he wanted to know when Musk thinks Tesla will achieve full self-driving capability. Anderson made it clear that achievement would mean it's safer than a human driver and could handle driving in most areas with human intervention. Musk replied via Teslarati:
“Yes, I mean, the car currently drives me around Austin most of the time with no interventions. And we have over 100,000 people in our full self-driving beta program.”
Anderson went on to ask Musk why the system's development is taking much longer than anticipated, referencing the fact that Musk has said it will be ready by the end of the year for years now. It's almost become a bit of a joke like Musk's "two weeks" comments. Every year, the CEO says FSD will be feature-complete by the end of the year, but it has yet to happen.
Musk told Anderson that there have been many times throughout the development of FSD that it seemed progress was notable. However, there were many "false dawns" along the way. Just when Tesla thought it had solved something huge, it proved to be a more minor improvement than anticipated. Musk compared it to log curves, adding:
“It goes up — you know — sort of fairly straight away. And then it starts tailing off, and you start getting diminishing returns.”
Essentially, Musk said Tesla has made much progress on many occasions, to a point that the technology's success seemed to top off. This required going back to the drawing board and rethinking the self-driving project. He reiterated that solving FSD really means solving "real-world AI."
Once Tesla realized the need to rethink the technology and the process itself, it began to focus on the more recent camera-based vision-only approach. Musk is now more confident than ever that the new approach to hardware and AI is what's needed to successfully deploy Tesla's Full Self-Driving capability sooner rather than later.
What do you think? Will another year go by with no wide release of Tesla's FSD capability? Is the vision-based approach the answer? Start a conversation in our comment section below.