Tech

5 things you need to know about Tesla's hyped Full Self-Driving beta

Elon Musk is finally delivering on Tesla's long-promised FSD beta.

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving beta version 9 is finally being rolled out after years of postponements, and with that are some significant shifts to the way its software works, looks, and the way we regard its vision for autonomous driving.

Here are 5 things you need to know about Full Self-Driving Beta v9...

1. A long road

Tesla’s recent beta version 9 self-driving software has been long-anticipated. Initially, Elon Musk promised a new and improved beta in 2018, before pushing the expected release date to 2019, and then postponing once more to this past June.

Needless to say, achieving a workable advancement in self-driving has been a challenge — a surprisingly hard one according to Musk...

BRITTA PEDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

2. The vision

One of the most significant technological changes to Tesla’s new self-driving beta is the fact that it relies completely on Tesla Vision, the company’s own computer vision. Previously systems had been supplemented by radar — a tried and effective method of avoiding nearby objects. The shift has been somewhat controversial, raising questions on whether transitioning solely to computer vision is actually the safest approach.

The jury is obviously still out on whether the transition to Tesla Vision will have any noticeable impact on self-driving safety and after a fatal crash involving Tesla’s Autopilot software, the company won’t have much leeway in that department.

Shutterstock

3. Early access

For now, Beta v9 will only be available to those in Tesla’s early access program, which as noted by Electrek, is a pool of about 2,000 people that consists mostly of current Tesla employees. When the software is rolled out more broadly will depend on how early testing goes, and so far, it’s fairly smooth.

In this video from Tesla tester, Chuck Cook, Beta v9 makes a pretty stilted unprotected right-hand turn and also misconstrues a flashing yellow light for a red one.

4. Hands-on

As advanced as Tesla’s new software might be, “Full Self-Driving” still seems like a stretch. In a pretty stark disclaimer, Tesla warned that drivers are still mandated to keep their hands on the steering wheel, saying...

Shutterstock

“Full Self-Driving is in early limited access Beta and must be used with additional caution. It may do the wrong thing at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention on the road.”

Tesla

NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images

5. New beta, new look

Beta v9 will also have a new UI for when self-driving is enabled, and depending on the model of Tesla, it could significantly change the on-screen visualizations. For instance, when self-driving is enabled in a Model X or S, the vehicle’s instrument panel will display an expanded visualization that shows “surrounding information” according to the release notes.

Apps on the left and right sides of the panel will be swapped for information on driving speed, autopilot set speed, and detected speed limit.

Teslas Full Self-Driving Beta v9 is without a doubt its most advanced yet software update yet, offering new capabilities like off-highway lane assist and even the ability to tackle roundabouts, but there’s still clearly a long way to go before “Full Self-Driving” lives up to its name.