Tesla is set to begin testing its Full Self-Driving (FSD) software in a limited number of existing vehicles.
Tesla head honcho Elon Musk announced on Twitter that the electric carmaker’s software — designed to give existing vehicles autonomous driving capabilities — will begin limited road tests in a small, closed beta starting on October 20.
In April, Musk announced that Tesla’s self-driving car software would be ready by the end of 2020. The feature would be available via a subscription service to those who own Tesla cars. The company rewrote its Full Self-Driving software stack so that it would better recognize and label items the vehicle sees on roads.
After a complete rewrite of the autopilot function, Musk says that preliminary real-life tests of the software is ready to start. The pool of Tesla vehicles that will get the software update for FSD is very small. Musk tweeted, “This will, at first, be limited to a small number of people who are expert and careful drivers.” There is no further details on how they will choose the test pool.
Full Self-Driving Hiccups
Tesla’s FSD feature has been a long time coming for the company. Its release date has pushed back multiple times already. Besides the obvious governmental concerns and regulatory issues, the software also wasn’t good enough. It sometimes struggled to recognize things like road signs or driving obstacles. It would sometimes mislabel items, causing the software to perform unnecessary driving actions. To fix those issues, Tesla engineers completed a vast re-write of the software itself.
Musk says that the system should be able to get commuters from home to work (and back) with no human intervention required. The company needs the FSD feature to be fully functional before it deploys its fleet of Robotaxis. Tesla has said it would like to have self-driving taxis on the roads by 2021 in some U.S. markets.
There’s no word on how long the closed beta will run before it’s opened up to more Tesla owners. Self-driving vehicles are difficult to pull off. Even if Tesla’s beta is deemed successful, it’s likely to need a lot of fine-tuning before it’s rolled out.