from the when-a-crash-is-more-than-a-crash dept.
SAN FRANCISCO — Tesla began letting owners request its “Full Self-Driving” software early Saturday, opening up for wide release its most advanced driver-assistance suite and signaling thousands of drivers will soon be on the road with the unregulated and largely untested features.
It’s the first time the company has let typical owners upgrade to the software it terms self-driving, although the name itself is an exaggeration by industry and regulatory standards. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk had said owners would be able to request this weekend the upgraded suite of advanced driver-assistance features, which Tesla says is a beta, although they wouldn’t receive the capabilities right away.
Owners will have to agree to let Tesla monitor their driving behavior through the company insurance calculator. Tesla issued a detailed guide specifying the criteria under which they would be graded. If their driving is deemed to be “good” over a seven day period, Musk said on Twitter, “beta access will be granted.”
It’s the latest twist in a saga that has regulators, safety advocates and family of Tesla crash victims up in arms because of the potential for chaos as the technology is unleashed on real-world roads. Until now, roughly 2,000 beta testers have had access to the technology.
This weekend’s release would make it available to those who have purchased the now-$10,000 software upgrade, and those who have purchased a subscription from Tesla for about $100 to $200 per month — if they can first pass Tesla’s safety monitoring.
[...] already, investigators are looking at its predecessor, dubbed Autopilot. That navigates vehicles from highway on-ramp to off-ramp, can park and summon cars, with a driver monitoring the software. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation last month into around a dozen crashes involving parked emergency vehicles while Autopilot was engaged.
“Full Self-Driving” expands Autopilot’s capabilities to city streets and offers the ability to navigate the vehicle turn-by-turn, from point A to point B.
Tesla and NHTSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Tesla has repeatedly argued that Autopilot is safer than cars in manual driving when the modes are compared using Tesla data and information from NHTSA.
Musk has said “Autopilot is unequivocally safer” than typical cars. The data is not directly comparable, however, because Autopilot is supposed to be activated on certain types of roads in conditions where it can function properly. [...]