Tesla warns that its vehicles are not yet ready for this year’s approval as fully autonomous
Tesla cars use a program called “Full Autonomous Driving” (FSD) that has not been approved by the authorities.
Tesla Inc’s CEO Elon Musk has said the advanced driver assistance program will not get regulatory approval in 2022, noting that the company can still not convince authorities that its cars can be driven without someone behind the wheel.
The Silicon Valley automaker is selling an additional $15,000 program called “Full Self-Driving” (FSD), allowing its vehicles to change lanes and park independently. This complements the standard “autopilot” feature that allows cars to steer, accelerate and brake within their lanes without driver intervention.
However, cars still need to be driven with human supervision. The fully autonomous vehicle requires regulatory approval.
Musk said in a post-earnings call Wednesday that all FSD users in North America will have an upgraded version by the end of the year, adding that while his cars aren’t quite ready for anyone behind the wheel, they rarely have drivers. Touch controls
“The car will be able to take you from your home to your work, to your friend’s house, to the grocery store without ever touching the steering wheel,” he said.
“Whether it will get regulatory approval is a separate matter. It will not get regulatory approval at that time,” he added.
Musk also said that company hopes to introduce the FSD update in 2023 to show regulators that the car is safer than the average human.
“Musk is opening up the possibility that Tesla will have a tougher path to obtaining FSD approval given the increased scrutiny from NHTSA and others,” said Craig Irwin, an analyst at Roth Capital.
Car safety organizations have long been at odds with Tesla over partially automated driving systems. Since 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened 38 special investigations into accidents involving Tesla vehicles that led to 19 deaths, looking into whether the program was a factor.
“Translation: Tensions between NHTSA and Tesla will escalate by the end of the year, and company will move forward,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at venture capital firm Loup Ventures, which owns Tesla stock.
Tesla’s name for its software has also caused consternation. The automaker accused the California transportation regulator of false advertising because the features do not provide full autonomy in the car.
Tesla’s website says both technologies “require active driver supervision” with a driver who is “fully vigilant” with “hands on the steering wheel” and does not make the car autonomous.
However, some analysts say Tesla’s main problem is not the regulators but the software itself, given the complexity of autonomous driving.
“The obstacle is the technology. It’s not about endorsing that technology,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina.
Tesla has repeatedly missed self-imposed goals for its vehicles to achieve full self-driving capability, a feature Musk says will eventually become “Tesla’s most important source of profitability.”
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