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Tesla Releases Full Self-Driving Mode Beta Update

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Tesla has enabled new full-self driving features for certain customers. The new features include the ability to automatically steer the vehicle while on city streets, and Tesla plans to increase the price of the package by $2,000 in the near future.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the rollout on Twitter. The release is an upgrade from the existing Full Self-Driving (FSD) package, fulfilling the promised "coming soon" capability of auto-steering on city streets. The release notes claim that the software can now select forks during navigation, navigate around obstacles, and make turns, while outside of a highway environment. On Twitter, Musk claimed,

The FSD improvement will come as a quantum leap, because it’s a fundamental architectural rewrite, not an incremental tweak. I drive the bleeding edge alpha build in my car personally. Almost at zero interventions between home and work.

Since 2014, Tesla has been offering two automation software packages for its vehicles: Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability. Autopilot, the more limited package, includes traffic-aware speed control and auto-steering to keep the vehicle within a marked lane. The current Full Self-Driving Capability package includes more advanced features, such as automatic parking and "summoning," as well as lane changes and "on-ramp to off-ramp" navigation on limited-access highways. Tesla warns that all features should require that the driver remain fully attentive with their hands upon the steering wheel.

Some users who have been invited to the beta for the upgrade have posted screen shots of the new software, including release notes. The notes warn that the features must be used with MORE caution, as the vehicle "may do the wrong thing at the worst time." The notes indicate that the new mode will work while outside a limited-access highway, and will include lane changes, choosing forks or making right and left turns to follow navigation routes, and avoiding other vehicles and objects. Musk notes that the release will be "slow and cautious," and will be limited to a small group of "expert and careful" drivers.

While Tesla's self-driving technology is widely known among consumers, Guidehouse Insights (former Navigant Research) does not rank Tesla in the top 10 of its Automated Driving Vehicles leaderboard, which rates companies according to various aspects of their strategy and execution. Waymo, the holder of the top spot, announced in early October that they would be opening up their driverless service to more of the public. The company, part of Google's parent organization Alphabet, has been operating rides-for-hire to select customers in the Phoenix, AZ, metropolitan area since 2017. Guidehouse's number three company, Cruise, recently became only the fifth company to obtain a permit from the State of California to operate driverless vehicles on public roads, something that Tesla has not done.

Tesla's FSD beta rollout came just as the company announced its earnings for Q3, which were described as a "record quarter on many levels," including vehicle deliveries, cash flow, and profitability. Musk says that the price for the FSD package, currently $8,000, will be increased by $2,000 in the near future, and could eventually be worth "somewhere in excess of $100,000" if it gains regulatory approval.
 

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