Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Tesla Begins Rolling Out a Software Product Called ‘Full Self-Driving’ That Does Not Fully Self-Drive the Car

Andrew J. Hawkins, the Verge:

Tesla sent out the first “Full Self-Driving” beta software update to a select group of customers this week, CEO Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday. On an earnings call Wednesday, Musk said more Tesla owners would get the update as the weeks progress, with the goal of a “wide release” by the end of the year.

Only those customers in Tesla’s Early Access Program will receive the software update, that will enable drivers to access Autopilot’s partially automated driver assist system on city streets. The early access program is used as a testing platform to help iron out software bugs.

I saw this article when it was posted to the Verge’s homepage a couple of days ago. It was in the small bottom row of that large grid they have at the top of the page, and I remember thinking “that is pretty subtle placement for a story about how autonomous transportation is now real”. Well, this being Tesla, it isn’t that at all.

Jason Torchinsky, Jalopnik:

Yes, it does plenty of things and is extremely technically impressive, but it’s still a Level 2 system, a very advanced driver-assist system, not by any means fully autonomous. There’s a lot of confusion about this, confusion that Tesla themselves are causing, and it could be dangerous.

[…]

It doesn’t fundamentally matter if it can change lanes, go around objects, follow forks in the road, or whatever. Those are all extremely impressive technical achievements, but the system requires the driver to remain vigilant and ready to take over at any second should the system become confused or fail.

That’s by definition not “full self-driving,” and Tesla’s continued use of that descriptor is dangerous.

Maybe this makes me curmudgeonly, but I feel like it is not fair to the general public for Tesla to beta test on public roads software with a name so misleading it might cause some drivers to believe their cars now drive themselves.