At Tesla’s AI Day 2022 today, the company dedicated a significant portion of the agenda to their Autonomous Driving efforts. While we got some incredibly technical detail like lane languages, occupancy networks neural planners, it was Elon’s comments around the timing of the FSD Beta rollout that will excite many.
If you’re an international customer, you have had very little in the way of a timeline for FSD Beta, outside a loose mention of Europe next, then the rest of the world sometime after that. Today, we heard a very different story from Musk.
During the Q&A portion of the event, Musk explained that he is currently driving an alpha build of FSD Beta that has two stacks (city streets and highway) merged into the long-awaited ‘single stack’. We understand this means Version 11 of FSD Beta.
Talking about future software releases, Musk explained that FSD Beta is likely to be released to the world before the end of this year (for future reference this is the year 2022). He did provide a caveat that some countries require regulatory approval before that would be possible.
There’s a lot to unpack about this announcement.
Firstly, is it technically ready for international release?
Over the past year, the FSD Beta program has expanded from around 2,000 customers to more than 160,000 without any major issues and Tesla plans to open this to anyone who wants it in the US before the end of the year (that sounds like November now).
Being available in just North America and Canada, many (myself included), imagined we were looking at a timeframe of well into 2023 and possibly 2024 before we’d see it in countries like Australia. After today, it seems Tesla are confident they can launch beta in new countries with the dataset they already have.
Something we should look out for is a price rise to the FSD Package that you need to enable the FSD Beta. When Beta arrived in the US, we certainly saw the outright price jump, along with the introduction of a monthly subscription option. The release of Beta also coincided with the release of Tesla Insurance in many markets and it’s not out of the question to expect this is also due for release in more markets in late 2022, or early 2023.
For countries like Australia, that means supporting Right-hand drive vehicles driving on the left side of the road. It also means they need to accommodate our road rules, and any uniqueness we have in lane lines, intersections etc.
There are now tens of thousands of Tesla’s on the road in Australia, helping to collect training data, but without Beta launched, and any internal ADAS testing that we know of, they have no local data about how the cars perform making turns on city streets or taking round abouts so we’ll quickly learn just how transferrable FSD Beta training really is.
Secondly, Musk’s statement about worldwide release raises the question about regulatory approvals, but given the system is a level 3 system at best, we should have no problem in being supported here, as the driver is still absolutely responsible for the vehicle.
Australia doesn’t currently have autonomous regulations for level 4/5, outside some testing exceptions, this is due around 2026, but that may be a timeline that needs to be accelerated if the technology is ready earlier.
We also saw a substantial change in the language Musk used around the benchmark of when the software is ready for release. Before today, we’d repeatedly seen Tesla talk about their autonomous software being 5-10x safer than the average human.
Today, Musk spoke about the readiness in relation to its ability to save lives and it’s clear he believes we’re rapidly approaching that point where their software can save many lives.
During the Q&A, we also learned from one of the Autonomy team, that a new upgrade to the ‘parking lot stack’ around the time V11 ships. This could mean that we not only get both the city streets and navigate on autopilot running on the same code, but potentially the summon stack as well, completing the slow, medium, and high-speed driving segments of driving.
If you missed today’s AI Day 2022 event, you can now watch it on replay below, the FSD Beta section starts around the 58 minute mark.