Tesla’s latest release of its “fully functioning” Full Self Driving (FSD) beta software has been recorded in captivating footage by a drone.
Much like a gaming company might release bleeding edge versions of game updates to loyal fans, Tesla has rolled out its new software to a small number of selected customers starting last Wednesday.
Reports of how the Tesla FSD handles started rolling in on social media as drivers reacted to the early release with surprise, elation and the occasional superlative.
Word is that the handling has, unsurprisingly, not been perfect – but then, that is why it is called a beta release. Now, with a week of feedback from beta drivers under its belt, Tesla has released another version (2020.40.8.10) and new videos are starting to be uploaded by beta drivers.
One uploaded by the vlogger and Twitter user known as “Brandon M” shows his white Tesla Model 3 driving with FSD enabled, followed by a Skydio drone (viewers note how well the Skydio’s own “follow object” is almost more impressive than the Tesla!), which you can see in full at the bottom of this article.
According to Brandon, and other beta drivers such as Sofiaan Fraval, the new version of FSD shows a significant improvement from the first release.
There are still, it would seem, some areas that require improvement. There’s one moment when a car crossed in front of the Model 3 at a T-intersection, then parked near the corner, and the Model 3 nearly drove into the car.
Although the driver of the Model 3 stopped and readjusted in time, Brandon notes that it was, “a good example of this is still beta and how important it is to have control at all times.”
There is also an example of a “phantom” braking event, as the Tesla nears a ute – this is one issue that has been noted commonly by owners of Tesla vehicles with basic Autopilot.
There is another example where the Model 3 goes through an odd-shaped intersection with no give way lines but stops anyway, and another corner where it doesn’t stop where there is a stop sign, only slowing down.
All in all though, the Brandon comments that the FSD software is an improvement of what went before. It no longer bounces between cars like it did initially when driving down a residential street with no lane markings, and turns in general are smoother.
“A few scary moments, but definitely improved!” said Brandon on Twitter.
Tesla has attracted criticsim for allowing untrained drivers to test its beta software, although the reactions from beta drivers sharing footage would suggest they consider it an honour to to have been chosen to participate.
Musk thanked beta drivers in a response to one such driver, James Locke, saying all the content being shared is very helpful.
Yes, very helpful. Thanks all beta testers!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 25, 2020
Musk also commented via Twitter on Monday (Australian time) that his own Tesla had the latest version of the software a few days ahead of beta testers.
Mine is a few days ahead
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 24, 2020
You can view the drone footage of Brandon’s drive through Auburn in San Francisco here:
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 since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.