Source: Tesla
Source: Tesla

Elon Musk, the CEO and co-founder of electric carmaker Tesla, has confirmed that two very keenly awaited self driving features will be coming to Australian Tesla owners soon, allaying concerns that a price rise in Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) option would be imposed before the features becoming available.

Tesla’s Version 10 software began rolling out in the US in late September, including the newest feature, Smart Summon – which allows drivers to direct their car remotely to pick them up from a carpark from as far as 65 metres away.

However, due to delays in regulatory approvals, the Smart Summon features was not available to Australian Tesla owners despite V10 commencing its rollout here a few days later.

Neither has Navigate on Autopilot (NoA) – a high level driver assist feature that guides drivers when changing lanes and maneuvering through highway on-ramps and off-ramps – been made available in Australia despite it being available in the US for a good twelve months now.

But there is now some light in the tunnel for Australian drivers who opted for FSD upon purchasing their vehicles, and for those who have been holding off deciding whether to spend the extra dosh  – after all, paying $A8,500 for something that is not yet fully-featured might be a bitter pill to swallow.

This has been complicated by the fact that it has been known for some time that Tesla would again hike the price of FSD, and for which there is also now a date, with Musk confirming on Saturday (Australian time) that the next price increase would commence on November 1, 2019, now that V10 is out.

In Australia, the price hike could amount to as much as $A1,500, bringing the total for FSD to $10,000.

The announcement drew a great deal of noise from Australian Tesla owners, but Musk has at last listened and responded, saying that the the features would be “coming v soon”.

While it’s not exactly a guarantee that either or both NoA or Smart Summon will arrive before the November 1 price hike, it is at least some indication that regulators may soon be on board allowing these features to be used on Australian roads.

It appears the same cannot be said for Europe however, with Musk responding that the price hike would be delayed until more is known about when Smart Summon can be made available in the European Union.

As opposed to NoA which still requires driver attention behind the wheel, Smart Summon is facing considerable criticism by and large due to the fact that it is the first FSD feature to be operated remotely (with no driver behind the wheel).

User error as drivers get used to controlling a vehicle from afar (this is not your average remote controlled car after all), and the fact that the fledgling technology is in essence a beta upgrade that requires a huge amount of real world data to improve its algorithms, have contributed to the negative press.

However, it would appear that while an assessment from product assessment outfit Consumer Reports has denounced Tesla vehicles operating with the new feature as “drunk driving”, this may be improved upon dramatically, and quickly.

With the ability to improve upon shortcomings via over-the-air updates, and likely upwards of a million use cases of data to draw upon (550,000 uses were logged in the first week of rollout), Tesla CEO Musk says that within weeks such kinks will be ironed out.

 

The gradual roll out of self-driving features by Tesla are part of a wider plan to eventually implement a fleet of autonomous and zero emissions “robo-taxis”.

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