Tesla CEO Elon Musk has laid out a rough plan to expand access to Full Self-Driving (FSD), the company’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), in North America and around the world.
“Once FSD is super smooth (not just safe), we will roll out a one-month free trial for all cars in North America,” Musk tweeted Monday. “Then expand to the rest of the world after making sure it works well on local roads and regulatory agencies approve it in that country.”
Despite what the name suggests, FSD doesn’t actually make a car drive itself completely. The latest version of the beta software automates some driving tasks on both highways and city streets, but it still requires the driver to remain alert and take control of the vehicle at all times.
Musk did not give a specific timeline for expanding access to FSD outside of North America, where the $15,000 add-on has been available to “anyone who asks” since November. The executive also didn’t elaborate on why Tesla would roll out a one-month free 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 beta. That means it takes a lot of data to train and improve. Rolling out FSD to every Tesla in North America, even if just for a month, will allow the automaker to collect another sizable chunk of driving data while also creating hype for the software and its capabilities — the Tesla equivalent of handing out a free sample of ice cream to get you to buy a scoop.
“We test as much as possible in simulation and with (quality assurance) drivers, but the reality is much more complex,” says Musk tweeted over the weekend, alongside news that the latest version of FSD would be shipping to Tesla employees this week.
The director also teased possibilities for the next version of FSD, which said Musk would have “end-to-end AI”.
Outside of North America, Tesla is limited in its ability to allow drivers access to FSD due to stricter regulations. Drivers can only access Autopilot, Tesla’s standard ADAS, which includes features such as auto-steer within a lane, auto-brake, and auto-navigation to highway entrances and exits, but it’s a call-back version. FSD is still not allowed on public roads.
However, there have been some moves in the past month by the European Commission to accelerate the regulation of ADAS. The Commission aims to have the new regulations fully submitted by September 2024, with the option of both an earlier deadline and testing of systems prior to roll-out.
Meanwhile, in Asian markets such as China, where Tesla Autopilot is available to drivers, there have been more recently reports that the automaker will soon begin large-scale FSD testing.
The possible widespread rollout comes as FSD and Autopilot have put the automaker in hot water in recent years. The systems have been the subject of numerous lawsuits and federal investigations, including a criminal investigation by the United States Department of Justice. The family of an Apple engineer who died in a car accident while Autopilot was reportedly activated is currently on the road, and Musk will likely have to take the stand to defend comments he made about the system’s capabilities.