By on December 30, 2020


Elon Musk said in a tweet, “All Tesla cars delivered in the final three days of the year will get three months of the Full Self-Driving option for free. Delivery & docs must be fully complete by midnight Dec 31st.”


Tesla touts its vehicles as the safest cars in the world with passive and active safety features to protect both the driver and passengers. Citing their achievement of five-star safety ratings in every category and subcategory in U.S. government testing, it also goes on to say that the Model 3 was found to have the lowest probability of injury of any car tested, followed by the Model S and Model X. Tesla further states that the Model X was the first SUV achieve a five-star rating across the board.


The Full Self-Driving option is the successor to Tesla’s Autopilot, which was deemed less safe than manual driving, according to an article in Forbes. It seems that Tesla doesn’t abide by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) definition of automobile crashes versus accidents as they choose to report. Tesla says that their cars were involved in one accident in every 3.07 million miles driven with Autopilot engaged. Tesla also stated that without Autopilot on, Tesla drivers had one accident for every 2.10 million miles driven due to their advanced safety features. This doesn’t take into account fatalities that have occurred with Autopilot engaged, nor the more spectacular accidents while Autopilot was being used.


So exactly what is Full Self-Driving? According to Consumer Reports, it’s an $8,000-$10,000 option on a Tesla that you may not want anytime soon. “Despite the name, the Full Self-Driving capability suite requires significant driver attention to ensure that these developing-technology features don’t introduce new safety risks to the driver, or other vehicles out on the road,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. “Not only that, in our evaluations we determined that several of the features don’t provide much in the way of real benefits to customers, despite the extremely high purchase price.”


Inconsistency was the biggest problem encountered with Full Self-Driving, whether utilizing Autopark, Smart Summon, Autopilot navigation, or Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control. Forgetting where your Tesla parked itself previously may be no big thing, but driving in the carpool lane, remaining in the passing lane for long periods (a potential moving violation in Washington state), or driving through stop signs aren’t minor errors. Better not to be a Tesla beta tester, whether for free as Elon announced, or as a costly option.


[Images: Tesla]

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20 Comments on “Tesla Full-Self Driving Option Comes Up Empty...”

  • avatar

    “ remaining in the passing lane for long period”

    Wow! That’s certainly not something a human would ever do.

  • avatar

    Sakurai, you left out a lot of information in the article. For one thing, it isn’t even available yet. It’s still in beta and the Consumers Report article even states:

    “the company says that through future over-the-air software updates, its cars should eventually be capable of driving themselves—for a price.”

    See the word “eventually”. That means they didn’t test it. They didn’t have it. They were just testing the version of autopilot that was available at the time. Not FSD. The hardware is there (although I’m skeptical). Do I think it’s going to have issues when it does become available? Yes, and I think I know how to make it fail. But, the final version isn’t available yet and wasn’t tested by Consumer’s Guide. When it is released and you actually try it yourself, then write an article.

    If I order a Tesla, the only reason I might get FSD is for competitive analysis purposes. Otherwise, unless it comes with the car, I’m not shelling out $10k for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      “If I order a Tesla, the only reason I might get FSD is for competitive analysis purposes. Otherwise, unless it comes with the car, I’m not shelling out $10k for it.”

      In the unlikely event that I order a Tesla, I will insist that all self-driving technology be deactivated – even if it comes standard. In fact, if it comes standard, I’m already paying for it. Which means that I wouldn’t order the car to begin with.

      • 0 avatar

        “I will insist that all self-driving technology be deactivated”

        That’s not unreasonable. You should be able to deactivate features, especially anything that communicates back to the manufacturer, which the car does by default. Even features like traction control need deactivation. I’ve freed myself from being stuck in snow by deactivating it. You should also have the right to review any OTA updates.

    • 0 avatar

      Hardware ain’t there. Look at the type, number, and quality of sensors on a Tesla vs. every other OEM’s system. Heck, compare to SuperCruise, a clearly technically superior system.

      Smoke and mirrors.

      • 0 avatar

        The other oems hardware isn’t there either. I’d really like to see the addition of subsurface radar ground signature technology. It’s under development. One of my areas of research is tracking unseen moving objects through reflections and shadows. Seeing around corners will give AV systems an advantage over humans. I’m also a fan of FLIR.

  • avatar

    Been in tech all my life. Started in engineering, then product management, and finally over to the dark side of product marketing.

    There is no way on earth I am trusting stop sign/traffic light detection – certainly not in an inattentive state. For that matter, someone that disengaged from driving in an urban environment is terrifying to think about.

    We are 15 to 20 years away from Level V autonomy, and we’ll never be able to solve for the ethical questions of life/death decisions and a machine making those decisions.

  • avatar

    Follow up – not a luddite. Purposely bought a car with blind spot monitoring, lane keep and steering assist, full-speed cruise control, pedestrian detection, and emergency stop capabilities. It also has self-park, a feature I’ve never used because I’m competent at parallel parking. I have used it a couple of times to tell me, “yes, the car will fit in that spot,” and taken it from there.

    I am not “afraid” of technology – I’m afraid of bad marketing and people that abdicate all forms of responsibility because of the bad marketing.

    • 0 avatar

      Technology that informs drivers is always good. Technology that takes over from the driver is often bad. Examples of the former are blind spot monitoring (I’d prefer an overhead view of everything near my vehicle.) and detection of cross traffic and pedestrians. ABS and traction control help most of the time but are better turned off on very slippery surfaces. Otherwise, the last thing I want is a car that tries to accelerate, brake or steer in a manner different from what I intend and expect. Lane keeping, adaptive cruise control and emergency stop are counterproductive. I won’t have a vehicle that doesn’t provide a way for me to turn them off.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    FSD will end up as the subject of a class action lawsuit, because Tesla is fraudulently selling a product that does not exist, and has no delivery date or specifications.

    Worse, this vaporware is removed from the vehicle upon trade in, depriving the seller and the reseller of its alleged value.

    Besides all that, I don’t believe it will ever work. FSD is Level 5 stuff, which means all roads, all weather, all the time. Most importantly, I can’t imagine what lawyer will sign up the company for the liability if and when FSD malfunctions.

  • avatar

    The third paragraph was confusing to me, so I read the Forbes article. The *comments on the Forbes article* (ok, some of them) are extremely interesting.

    The ‘Forbes’ comments:

    Bonus: Some backstory on FSD updates [with um… ‘predictable’ comments]:

  • avatar

    This was an article about a 2 month old article from consumer’s guide complaining about beta software in a car. It’s stale. If you’re going to write about tesla, at least write something current. Plenty of positive stuff (which you’ll ignore) and even more current negative news. The most recent I’ve read is a critique from a pro-EV blogger that dared to be balanced and honest in her posts about Tesla. The fanatics were all over her. Happened to another blogger I know too.

    Like I said, there’s plenty out there both positive and negative to write rather than an old beat-to-death subject. It’s almost as if you realized you had to have a Tesla article, googled, and ran with the first thing that popped out. In my opinion, FSD beta is not one of the more interesting things happening around Tesla at the moment, positive and negative, and has already been covered. The Tesla cult, factory expansion, the 500k production goal, and Tesla 4680 vs. Toyota solid-state and QuantumScape (VW) batteries are some of the current subjects I’ve read (or watched) about.

  • avatar

    I see there is a new hot take specialist in town determined to unseat Jalopnik as the de facto tabloid automotive website.

  • avatar

    “All Tesla cars delivered in the final three days of the year will get three months of the Full Self-Driving option for free.”

    And just like a Microsoft subscription, if you don’t renew you’ll crash!

  • avatar

    As a model 3 driver, I mostly agree.
    The price of the option is far too high, and its reliance on cameras only problematic.
    Coming from an older vehicle that had only ABS, ESP, and cruise control, I must say that the basic “autopilot” included in the 3 is nice on highways and traffic jams, as it reduces fatigue. But it’s really only a glorified adaptive cruise control. And I still don’t trust it in any complex situation, considered it does random “phantom braking”.
    The tesla automatic accident avoidance features are pretty nice, but I cannot compare it to that of other modern vehicles.

    So overall, a great vehicle, and a shame that Tesla and Musk are overhyping this very imperfect feature rather than focusing on the true strengths of the car.

    • 0 avatar

      @AKM: I agree with you, but the issue isn’t related to the fact they only use cameras. In fact, there are huge issues with LIDAR. The real problem is related to inherent flaws in current AI technology. There are new AI theories still under development and until we have it, I don’t think we can have a true FSD. Right now, in the advanced AI research community, we’re in the process of studying white papers and experimenting with new types of hardware and new AI theory. We’re going beyond traditional von Neumann architecture to implement it.

  • avatar

    And today Waymo went on record to say: That there autonomous driving stuff is way mo’ difficult than a moon shot.

    Seems to me that thinking commenters on this site have been saving the same thing for years, at least six. No, real autonomous driving won’t be out next year, but reporting your every driving second back to manufacturer HQ is here right now. Monitored like a serial killer in cell block D, we all are under surveillance. At least the Chinese know their government follows every fart under their social licence system. Here in the capitalist West we let both private and public interests do the same all the time as well, basically flying under the radar by promoting the “benefits” and obfuscating the privacy issues. We can freely complain about it to our heart’s content, but the plutocracy doesn’t take any notice and never will – let ’em squeak and complain they say — in effect your “betters” don’t give a fig newton what you say. That’s what freedom has become these days. Freedom to complain mightily and have nobody care. Go on, indulge yourself, have a rant, just make sure your payments arrive regularly each month or there’ll be trouble. Serfs with smartphones is what we have all become, tuned into whatever echo chamber suits our individual opinions and leanings, while pouring rancid spite on anyone else’s echo chamber which has a different POV.

    Keeping the peons at each others’ throats and off balance is classic misdirection, and it works like a charm while the big boys farm the pols for the tax money we all pay in. So whaddya going to do about it? Nothing. Might as well label people you don’t like as socialists, that’ll get ’em hopping mad, and keep your mind off how you’re being rooked left, right and center.

    Musk lies about everything controversial that smacks of even minor valid criticism of his products or marketing behavior, kind of like an intelligent Mangolini. Autonomous driving is two decades away at least, and sensors are not very good quality on any car with electronic nannies today, let alone the software to integrate their outputs intelligently, unlike a biological entity which does so without even having to think about it — even a fly spots the swatter on the way half the time. And so, this Tesla FSD horse manure, if you’re dumb enough to pay for it on your Tesla, is in actuality a donation to the Elon Musk Foundation. Got nothing bad to say about his entrepreurship in bringing EVs to market, good for him; it’s what you have to put up with the rest of the time that’s a crashing bore, because it’s BS squared. Pretty much all his opinings are.

    When someone invents a robot that can reliably gather ingredients from your fridge and pantry and make a stack of pancakes without leaving a mess or setting the stove on fire without any human help whatsoever, then real autonomous driving will be ready for prime time. Stardate 43/27.6 I think.

    • 0 avatar

      “When someone invents a robot that can reliably gather ingredients from your fridge and pantry and make a stack of pancakes..”

      Oh, it’s much, much more difficult than that. I could build something like that now. Maybe a robot that could play cornerback in the NFL alongside humans.

      The problem that needs to be solved is another type of AI. Artificial intuition. Like a cornerback that anticipates where and when a quarterback is going to throw a ball, a proper A/V system needs to anticipate situations. It can’t just react as most systems do now. It needs to anticipate problems and avoid them. Bad/inexperienced human drivers just react. Good/experienced drivers anticipate.

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