Tesla Full-Self Driving Option Comes Up Empty

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai

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]

Jason R. Sakurai
Jason R. Sakurai

With a father who owned a dealership, I literally grew up in the business. After college, I worked for GM, Nissan and Mazda, writing articles for automotive enthusiast magazines as a side gig. I discovered you could make a living selling ad space at Four Wheeler magazine, before I moved on to selling TV for the National Hot Rod Association. After that, I started Roadhouse, a marketing, advertising and PR firm dedicated to the automotive, outdoor/apparel, and entertainment industries. Through the years, I continued writing, shooting, and editing. It keep things interesting.

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  • AKM AKM on Jan 04, 2021

    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.

    • Mcs Mcs on Jan 04, 2021

      @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.

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jan 04, 2021

    And today Waymo went on record to say: That there autonomous driving stuff is way mo' difficult than a moon shot. https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/01/04/waymo-ceo-launching-a-self-driving-car-is-harder-than-launching-a-rocket/ 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.

    • Mcs Mcs on Jan 04, 2021

      "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.

  • C-b65792653 I'm starting to wonder about Elon....again!!I see a parallel with Henry Ford who was the wealthiest industrialist at one time. Henry went off on a tangent with the peace ship for WWI, Ford TriMotor, invasive social engineering, etc. Once the economy went bad, the focus fell back to cars. Elon became one of the wealthiest industrialist in the 21st century. Then he went off with the space venture, boring holes in the ground venture, "X" (formerly Twitter), etc, etc, etc. Once Tesla hit a plateau and he realized his EVs were a commodity, he too is focused on his primary money making machine. Yet, I feel Elon is over reacting. Down sizing is the nature of the beast in the auto industry; you can't get around that. But hacking the Super Charger division is like cutting off your own leg. IIRC, GM and Ford were scheduled to sign on to the exclusive Tesla charging format. That would have doubled or tripled his charging opportunity. I wonder what those at the Renaissance Center and the Glass House are thinking now. As alluded to, there's blood in the water and other charging companies will fill the void. I believe other nations have standardized EV charging (EU & China). Elon had the chance to have his charging system as the default in North America. Now, he's dropped the ball. He's lost considerable influence on what the standardized format will eventually be. Tremendous opportunity lost. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
  • Ede65792611 Got one. It was my Dad's and now has 132K on it. I pay my Mercedes guy zillions of dollars to keep it going. But, I do, and he does and it's an excellent vehicle. I've put in the full Android panel for BT handsfree and streaming with a backup cam.