Tesla to license FSD to other OEMs, allow transfer of FSD to new cars

Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed Wednesday that the automaker is “in discussion with major OEMs about using Tesla FSD.”

Tesla Full Self-Driving is the automaker’s beta advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) that can automate driving tasks on highways and urban streets. If other automakers were to adopt FSD technology, they would need to onboard both Tesla’s software and hardware suite. Tesla’s approach to ADAS, and ultimately to autonomy, is to rely only on computer vision processing, or cameras, rather than a range of sensors like lidar and radar.

During Wednesday’s second quarter earnings call, Musk also said Tesla will allow the transfer of FSD software to new vehicles, but only in the third quarter.

“This is a one-time amnesty,” said Musk, encouraging buyers to place their orders in Q3 or “within reasonable delivery time frames.” Currently, Tesla owners who have spent the $15,000 on FSD are locked into their existing car, and cannot upgrade to a new model without losing their access to the software.

Today, about 400,000 Teslas have FSD onboard, according to Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings report. The automaker’s goal in expanding the number of cars that use the controversial software is a pure play at increasing the amount of data those cars collect of real-world driving environments.

Musk touched on the importance of having vast amounts of video data to train FSD in order to eventually achieve full autonomy. Today, the automaker has accumulated 300 million miles driven in FSD, a number that Musk said “will seem extremely small very soon.”

Tesla to invest $1 billion in Dojo supercomputer

The other main piece of Tesla’s reach for autonomy is having enough compute power.

“The fundamental rate limiter on the progress of full self-driving is training,” said Musk. “If we had more training compute, we could get it done faster.”

Tesla also announced Wednesday that it would soon start production of its Dojo training computer. What that means, exactly, is unclear. Dojo, which Tesla announced at its AI Day in 2021, will be used to train Tesla’s neural nets. Those neural nets are used to power, train and improve FSD, as well as the automaker’s humanoid robot, Optimus. Musk said Tesla would be spending well over $1 billion on Dojo across capital expenditures and R&D.

The automaker is already using a large Nvidia GPU-based supercomputer, but the new Dojo is custom-built using chips designed by Tesla. Musk has claimed that Dojo will be capable of an exaflop, or 1 quintillion floating-point operations, per second. Per a graph in Tesla’s earnings report, it appears the automaker is now promising Dojo will deliver 100 exaflops by October 2024. A supercomputer capable of that kind of compute could perform in one second what a regular desktop computer might take billions of years to compute.

These are some seriously bold claims that should be taken with a grain of salt. Tesla needs Dojo to perform well so that it can fulfill its promises of bringing full autonomy to the masses. Previously, Musk has said that without FSD, Tesla would be “worth zero.” That’s because without the hype and potential of FSD actually turning Teslas into autonomous vehicles that can be hired out as robotaxis, Tesla is really just an automaker.

Musk has repeatedly promised that Tesla would achieve full autonomy by such-and-such date, and has repeatedly passed those dates with a partially autonomous product. Musk acknowledged this faux pas Wednesday, saying that people have “quite fairly” made fun of him and his over-optimistic predictions.

“I know I’m the Boy Who Cried FSD, but I think it will be better than a human by the end of this year,” he said.

This statement comes amid continued scrutiny from regulators into Tesla over the safety of FSD and its other ADAS, Autopilot. The latter has been linked to several crashes, many of which were fatal.

Elon Musk teases free Tesla FSD trial in North America

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has laid out a rough plan for expanding access to Full Self-Driving (FSD), the company’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), throughout North America and the rest of the world.

“Once FSD is super smooth (not just safe), we will roll out a free month trial for all cars in North America,” Musk tweeted Monday. “Then extend to rest of world after we ensure it works well on local roads and regulators approve it in that country.”

Despite what its name suggests, FSD does not actually allow a car to drive itself fully. The newest version of the beta software automates some driving tasks on both highways and city streets, but it still requires the driver to stay alert and take over control of the vehicle at any time.

Musk did not provide a specific timeline for extending access to FSD beyond North America, where the $15,000 add-on has been available to “anyone who requests it” since November. Nor did the executive elaborate on why Tesla would roll out a free one-month trial for all Tesla vehicles on the continent, but the reason is likely twofold.

FSD, which is powered by deep neural networks, is technically still in the beta stage. That means it requires reams of data to train and improve. By rolling FSD out to every Tesla in North America, even if it’s just for one month, the automaker can collect another hefty chunk of driving data while simultaneously drumming up hype for the software and its capabilities — the Tesla equivalent of giving out a free taste of ice cream to get you to buy a scoop.

“We test as much as possible in simulation and with [quality assurance] drivers, but reality is vastly more complex,” Musk tweeted over the weekend, alongside news that the latest version of FSD would ship to Tesla employees this week.

The executive also teased capabilities for the next version of FSD, which Musk said would have “end-to-end AI.”

Outside of North America, Tesla has been limited in its ability to give drivers access to FSD due to stricter regulations. Drivers only have access to Autopilot, Tesla’s standard ADAS, which includes features like automatic steering within a lane, automatic braking and automatic navigation to highway on- and off-ramps, but it’s a dialed-back version. FSD is still not yet allowed on public roads.

However, there have been some moves over the last month by the European Commission to speed up regulation on ADAS. The Commission aims to have new regulation submitted in full by September 2024, with the option available both for an earlier deadline and for pre-deployment testing of systems.

Meanwhile in Asian markets like China, where Tesla Autopilot is available to drivers, there have been recent reports that the automaker will soon begin large-scale FSD testing.

The potential widespread rollout comes as FSD and Autopilot have gotten the automaker into hot water in recent years. The systems have been the subject of numerous lawsuits and federal investigations, including a criminal investigation from the U.S. Department of Justice. The family of an Apple engineer who died in a car crash while Autopilot was allegedly activated is currently underway, and Musk will likely have to take the stand to defend comments he made about the capabilities of the system.

Elon Musk teases free Tesla FSD trial in North America by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

What to expect from Tesla’s long-awaited FSD version 11

Tesla has started rolling out version 11 of its Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software to employees and testers after several months of delays. The EV-maker hasn’t officially shared release notes on FSD Beta V11.3, but leaked notes and videos from beta testers have surfaced online, giving us a better idea of what’s to come.

FSD beta V11.3 promises to allow a Tesla to drive itself completely from A to B through cities and highways by combining FSD and Autopilot capabilities into a single-stack system. Today, drivers can engage FSD on city and residential streets to handle things like responding to stop signs and traffic signals. Highway driving is available via Autopilot’s software, which can automate driving tasks like traffic-aware cruise control and automatic steering in clearly marked lanes.

The latest version enables FSD beta on highways, which “unifies the vision and planning stack on and off-highway and replaces the legacy highway stack, which is over four years old,” according to release notes shared on Reddit. The notes continue:

The legacy highway stack still relies on several single-camera and single-frame networks, and was setup to handle simple lane-specific maneuvers. FSD Beta’s multi-camera video networks and next-gen planner, that allows for more complex agent interactions with less reliance on lanes, make way for adding more intelligent behaviors, smoother control and better decision making.

It’s this capacity for better decision making that has led to an additional highway behavior that moves the car away from blocked lanes and generic obstacles like road debris. Relying less on lanes also vehicles  move more smoothly at highway lane splits because the software is programmed to be less strict about centering between lane lines and allowing lower jerk maneuvers, according to the release notes.

FSD 11 also promises smoother merges and improved speed-based lane change decisions, as well as reduced sensitivity for speed-based lane changes in Chill mode. (Chill mode is one of Tesla’s three driving modes and it provides a larger follow distance between the Tesla and the car in front of it, and performs fewer speed-based lane changes. The other two modes are Average and Assertive.)

Those who have been granted early access to V11.3 have said the new software provides a more seamless overall experience, but it’s not entirely free from issues that have led to disengagements. When disengagements happen, though Version 11 includes a voice drive notes feature that prompts the driver to record and send Tesla an anonymous message to describe what happened.

Some other version 11 updates include:

  • Expanded automatic emergency braking in the case of vehicles crossing the car’s path and stealing the right of way — this feature will be active in both manual and Autopilot operations.
  • Improved Autopilot reaction time to red light and stop sign runners by 500 meters through increased reliance on an object’s instantaneous kinematics and trajectory estimates.
  • Reduced latency of trajectory optimization by 20% on average.
  • New visualizations with gray road edges and a wider representation of the car’s path.

FSD version 11, coming to a Tesla near you?

CEO Elon Musk had originally promised to get the latest version of FSD to drivers before the end of 2022, but has since delayed the release several times.

In early February, he tweeted, “V11 has been tougher than expected, as it is a significant rearchitecture of [neural networks], plus many more NNs replacing C++. Hoping to ship v11.3 end of week.”

A couple weeks later, Tesla released v11.3.2 to limited beta testers, from whom it will collect data before a more widespread release starting in North America. After that, Tesla will adapt the software for EU roads and submit to regulators, said Musk.

Even though customers are eager to try out the new FSD version, they might have to wait a little longer. Last week, Tesla issued a recall of around 360,000 vehicles with FSD in the U.S. (Tesla has rolled out FSD to 400,000 vehicles in North America) after an analysis from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) could allow vehicles to act unsafe around intersections and cause crashes.

Musk has been quick to point out that when it comes to Teslas, a “recall” isn’t exactly the right word because the company fixes bugs through over-the-air software (OTA) updates, rather than physically recalling cars to dealers to be fixed. OTA updates are also how Tesla sends out new versions of FSD, so it’s entirely possible that the company will use version 11 to fix the problems regulators have pointed out.

Tesla disbanded its communications department in 2020 and could not be reached for comment.

What to expect from Tesla’s long-awaited FSD version 11 by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

NHTSA requests info after Tesla crashes into fire truck

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Monday it has asked Tesla to provide more information after one of its vehicles crashed into a fire truck in California, Bloomberg reported.

The agency did not confirm to TechCrunch what kind of information it is seeking, but NHTSA likely wants to determine whether one of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) — Autopilot or Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta — was engaged at the time of the crash.

The Contra Costa County fire department tweeted about the incident Saturday, asking road users to slow down and move over when approaching emergency vehicles.

“Truck 1 was struck by a Tesla while blocking I-680 lanes from a previous accident,” the tweet said. “Driver pronounced dead on-scene; passenger was extricated & transported to hospital. Four firefighters also transported for evaluation.”

The tweet included photos of the accident, including several of a completely totaled Tesla.

NHTSA has opened dozens of special crash investigations (SCI) into Tesla vehicles where Autopilot was suspected of being used. Of the 48 SCIs that have been opened and closed between June 2016 and July 2022, 39 involved Teslas. And of those 39, only three were confirmed to have not involved Autopilot. NHTSA still has many open investigations into crashes involving Teslas, some of which were fatal. The agency doesn’t comment on open investigations.

This latest fatal crash comes a few days after Tesla issued a recall for 362,758 vehicles to update its FSD software after regulators said FSD could allow the vehicles to act unsafe around intersections and cause crashes. The recall followed a Super Bowl ad taken out by Tesla’s biggest hater, The Dawn Project, that called on regulators to ban FSD until critical safety defects are fixed.

Tesla has come under scrutiny from a range of federal and state regulators for the safety of its ADAS. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice requested information from Tesla on Autopilot and FSD, potentially as part of a criminal investigation into the company.

NHTSA requests info after Tesla crashes into fire truck by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Tesla’s biggest hater airs Super Bowl ad against FSD

Safety advocacy group The Dawn Project is taking its campaign to ban Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) system to the Super Bowl.

The 30-second ad, which is broadcasting to millions of football fans in Washington D.C. and state capitals like Austin, Tallahassee, Albany, Atlanta and Sacramento, outlines several alleged critical safety defects of Tesla FSD, the automaker’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS).

FSD is not actually fully self-driving, although it can perform some automated driving tasks like maneuvering through city streets and highways without driver input. The $15,000 system isn’t perfect, though, and drivers must remain alert to take over in case the system malfunctions or comes across something it can’t handle. There have been several reports of accidents occurring while Autopilot, Tesla’s lower level ADAS, was engaged. As a result, Tesla has been criticized, investigated and sued for falsely marketing the capabilities of its automated driving systems.

This most recent critique comes as Tesla has recently released its latest version of FSD to around 400,000 drivers in North America, renewing concerns of the system’s safety. Last month, a Tesla engineer testified that a 2016 demo in which the company claimed its car was driving itself was actually staged.

The Super Bowl ad features a collection of incriminating videos of Teslas behaving erratically while a voice over claims FSD will “run down a child in a school crosswalk, swerve into oncoming traffic, hit a baby in a stroller, go straight past stopped school buses, ignore ‘do not enter’ signs, and even drive on the wrong side of the road.”

The Dawn Project asserts that Tesla’s “deceptive marketing” and “woefully inept engineering” is endangering the public, and calls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Motor vehicles to turn off FSD until all of the safety defects are fixed.

The Dawn Project’s founder, Dan O’Dowd, is also the CEO of Green Hill Software, a company that builds operating systems for embedded safety and security systems, as well as its own automated driving systems. That fact at once lends credence to the organization’s potential subject matter expertise, and makes it clear that Green Hill is in competition with Tesla’s FSD. Last year, The Dawn Project took out a full page ad in The New York Times claiming Tesla’s FSD has a “critical malfunction every eight minutes.”

O’Dowd, who ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate last November and lost, says he’s making the investment in the new ad campaign because he wants to put pressure on politicians to prioritize ADAS safety. Some politicians like Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) have called for more oversight on Tesla’s tech, but the issue hasn’t exactly gone mainstream.

After The Dawn Project aired a commercial last summer showing a Tesla Model 3 striking four different child-sized mannequins while driving a test track in California, Tesla sent the organization a cease-and-desist letter. The letter refuted all of the campaign’s claims, doubled down on Tesla’s commitment to safety and called to question The Dawn Project’s methodology.

“The purported tests misuse and misrepresent the capabilities of Tesla’s technology, and disregard widely recognized testing performed by independent agencies as well as the experiences shared by our customers,” wrote Dinna Eskin, a Tesla lawyer, in last year’s cease-and-desist. “In fact, unsolicited scrutiny of the methodology behind The Dawn Project’s tests has already (and within hours of you publicly making defamatory allegations) shown that the testing is seriously deceptive and likely fraudulent.”

Tesla supporters also rushed to defend the technology, including one investor who tested the FSD beta using his own kid. O’Dowd offered to run the test with Musk and other critics in person to prove the accuracy and methodology of his tests.

“Tesla continues to focus on features and marketing gimmicks, not fixing critical safety defects,” said O’Dowd in a statement.”Elon even stated that Tesla’s priorities were Smart Summon, Autopark and Optimus, not making sure that FSD will not run down children. It is clear that the priorities at Tesla are wrong, and it is time for the regulator to step in and switch the software off until all of the issues we have identified are fixed.”

Tesla hasn’t responded publicly to the Super Bowl ad, but CEO Elon Musk replied to a tweet showing the ad with the Rolling on the Floor Laughing emoji. Tesla disbanded its PR department in 2020, so TechCrunch couldn’t reach out for a comment.

In addition to the Super Bowl ad, The Dawn Project is also taking out a series of full page ads in Politico and running additional TV ads in Washington, D.C., “where regulators are located,” that will call on FSD to be disabled until critical safety defects are fixed.

Tesla’s biggest hater airs Super Bowl ad against FSD by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

DOJ requests Autopilot, FSD documents from Tesla

The U.S. Department of Justice has asked Tesla for documents related to its branded Full Self-Driving and Autopilot advanced driver assistance systems, the automaker disclosed in a securities filing.

Tesla said in the filing it “has received requests from the DOJ for documents related to Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features.” “To our knowledge no government agency in any ongoing investigation has concluded that any wrongdoing occurred,” Tesla noted in the 10K filing that was posted Monday.

Tesla has been under investigation by the DOJ for at least a year, Reuters reported last fall, citing three people  familiar with the matter.” It’s unclear if the DOJ’s request for documents is connected to that investigation, which was launched in late 2021 following more than a dozen accidents involving the active use of Tesla’s Autopilot system.

Tesla vehicles come standard with a driver assistance system branded as Autopilot. For an additional $15,000, owners can buy “full self-driving,” or FSD — a feature that CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly promised will one day deliver full autonomous driving capabilities.

Neither one of these systems are self-driving. Autopilot and FSD are advanced driver assistance systems that automate some driving tasks and still require the driver to be ready to take over at any moment. Autopilot keeps the vehicle centered in the lane, can automatically change lanes and maintains the proper distance from other vehicles in traffic. FSD has those features and more including an active guidance system that navigates a car from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including interchanges and making lane changes.

Musk’s claims and promises of these systems as well as the branding has caught the attention of regulators. The DOJ’s inquiry reflects an uptick in regulator scrutiny of Tesla.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Tesla CEO Elon Musk regarding specific comments and efforts to promote the automaker’s claims regarding its “self-driving” capabilities. The investigation follows a testimony from a Tesla engineer that a 2016 video purporting to show a Tesla vehicle driving itself was in fact staged, and that Musk directed the video.

Tesla has been investigated and sued by several agencies and individuals for its claims of self-driving.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a number special investigations into Tesla for crashes involving Autopilot; the California Department of Motor Vehicles has accused Tesla of falsely advertising its ADAS; and drivers have sued the company for deceitful marketing.

All of the attention hasn’t thwarted Musk. During Tesla’s fourth quarter 2022 earnings call, Musk said “full self-driving is obviously getting better very rapidly.” In the past he has boasted that Tesla was close to “solving” full self-driving.

DOJ requests Autopilot, FSD documents from Tesla by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

Tesla extends FSD access amid regulator scrutiny

Tesla is extending access to its advanced driver assistance system, Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta version, to 160,000 owners in the U.S. and Canada, according to a tweet Monday from Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Around 100,000 Tesla owners currently have access to the controversial driver assist system, which, for a price tag of $15,000, promises to automate certain driving tasks such as assisted steering on highways and city streets, smart vehicle summoning, automatic parking and recognizing and reacting to traffic lights and stop signs. The expansion comes at a time when federal and state regulators, as well as Tesla owners and other concerned citizens, are coming down on FSD and Autopilot, Tesla’s less advanced driver assist system, after a series of crashes and other potentially life-threatening errors.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently investigating 16 crashes in which Tesla owners were potentially engaging the ADAS when they crashed into stationary emergency vehicles. In July, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles accused Tesla of falsely advertising its systems.

Just last week, a Tesla owner filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the company for deceitfully advertising Autopilot and FSD as either fully functioning or close to being “solved” since 2016, despite knowing full well that the systems cannot perform as advertised. The plaintiff alleged that Tesla’s ADAS — which can cost up to $15,000 for FSD — causes vehicles to run red lights, miss turns and veer into traffic.

Musk has admitted that Tesla is basically worthless without FSD, but in the same breath he’ll say that the company is close to “solving” full self-driving by the end of this year. However, despite actually dangerous mistakes the software has made, FSD still seems to fail at reaching human-levels for certain basic driving tasks.

“Loving FSD Beta — but — could the vehicle initiate the turn signal before switching into the turn lane?” tweeted one cautious Tesla owner. “It uses the signal for speed-based lane changes but not for merging into a turn lane.”

“Elon when will the tesla speed up when noticing traffic is going faster? Sometimes it’s going slow,” from Tesla Owners Silicon Valley. Musk promised that update would come next month.

Musk also noted on Twitter that the Autopilot/AI team is also working on Optimus, Tesla’s humanoid robot, alongside “actually smart summon/autopark,” both of which have end of month deadlines. Tesla’s AI Day is scheduled for September 30, and Musk is expected to provide updates on a range of technology, including Optimus.

During Tesla’s first-quarter earnings this year, Musk said Optimus, which will be designed to take the drudgery out of household tasks, will be “worth more than the car business, worth more than FSD.”

While Musk has several times underscored the importance that Optimus will have in the company’s future, the fact that the same team responsible for Autopilot is working on a robot implies that Optimus is still just a bit of a side project, rather than a development program.

Tesla extends FSD access amid regulator scrutiny by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch

How Xpeng’s city navigation will stack up against Tesla’s FSD

Xpeng, a Chinese smart electric vehicle startup, has launched its anticipated advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) that automates some driving functions in urban environments.

City Navigation Guided Pilot (City NGP), an expanded version of Xpeng’s NGP, which performed tasks like assisted driving on highways based on the navigation route set by the driver, is being tested on a pilot basis in Guangzhou. Certain Xpeng P5 family sedan customers in the city can now get access to City NGP via an over-the-air update before a wider rollout, according to the company.

Xpeng’s City NGP has been compared to Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software — Xpeng’s tech promises to do similar things to Tesla’s ADAS, including cruise control, automatic lane changes, navigating around stationary vehicles or obstacles, detecting and reacting to traffic lights, taking left or right turns, navigating through intersections, and avoiding obstructions like construction, pedestrians and cyclists.

At least, that’s what the technology promises to do; whether it will perform as advertised is another question. Tesla has faced myriad complaints and lawsuits for failing to meet its promised capabilities.

Tesla and Xpeng aim to eventually achieve full autonomous driving through sequential rollouts of their driver assist systems purchased and tested by drivers on real roads. The main difference, and one that may be the key here, is in the companies’ sensor stacks. Tesla has doggedly pursued a vision-only approach to full self-driving that is based on cameras and neural network processing. Xpeng, like most other companies aiming for autonomous driving, has a full suite of sensors that include cameras, lidar and radar.

“With the rollout of City NGP, XPeng is spearheading a strategic road map to complete our ADAS coverage from highways and parking lots to much more complex city driving scenarios, offering our customers enhanced safety and an optimized driving experience,” He Xiaopeng, chairman and CEO of XPeng, said in a statement. “We believe the continuous evolvement of City NGP and the expansion of its coverage will accelerate the transformation of the driving experiences of our customers.”

Ultimately, City NGP is a feature of Xpilot 3.5, Xpeng’s latest version of its standard ADAS (like how Teslas come standard with Autopilot). Drivers piloting City NGP will require a “seven-day familiarization period — and 100 km of driving — before its functions can be used on all available roads,” according to the company. Going forward, Xpeng’s full-scenario ADAS will be introduced to the automaker’s new flagship G9 SUV, which will launch in China on September 21.

Xpeng did not immediately respond to requests for more information about whether City NGP will be available on all vehicles going forward or whether drivers will incur an additional cost for City NGP. Xpilot 3.5 currently costs about $6,420 (RMB 45,000). Tesla recently raised the price of its FSD software to $15,000 in North America.

How Xpeng’s city navigation will stack up against Tesla’s FSD by Rebecca Bellan originally published on TechCrunch