Tesla will soon release a fully functional version of its Full Self Driving package to private beta testers, said Elon Musk at Tesla’s Battery Day event on Tuesday (US time) after undergoing a “fundamental rewrite” of its software.
It’s been a long time coming for Full Self Driving – at Tesla’s Autonomy Day in April 2019, the Tesla CEO and co-founder said: “A year from now we will have over a million cars with full self driving computer, hardware, everything.”
But that date has come and gone, and today Musk shared with an audience of socially distanced shareholders, each sitting in a Model 3 in the car park that served as the venue for the AGM and Battery Day, that developing autonomous driving technology is actually very hard.
However he also said that, “It’s kind of hard for people to judge the progress of Autopilot.”
Tesla has released various components that will eventually equal the sum of Full Self Driving, including Smart Summon (slow speed in carparks), Navigate on Autopilot (high speed on freeways) and most recently, stop and go through traffic lights.
“I’m driving a bleeding edge, alpha build of Autopilot, so I sort of have insight into what is going on,” he said.
But for now, development of Full Self Driving has reached a “local maximum”, forcing Tesla to do a “fundamental rewrite” of the software stack and relabel objects manually via 3D video.
“We had to do a fundamental rewrite of the entire Autopilot software stack… We’re now labeling 3D video, which is hugely different from when we were previously labeling single 2D images,” Musk said.
“We’re now labeling entire video segments, taking all cameras simultaneously and labeling that. The sophistication of the neural net of the car and the overall logic of the car is improved dramatically.”
Musk hopes that this means a beta version of the autonomous functionality can be released to private testers in October or November.
“We will hopefully release a private beta of full self driving in a month or s,” he said. “People will understand the magnitude of the changes … it’s just so profound.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.