By on October 25, 2021

Tesla Inc. pulled its Full Self Driving (FSD) beta off the table over the weekend, with CEO Elon Musk stating that testers had been “seeing some issues with [version] 10.3.”

To remedy the issue, the company has reverted back to FSD 10.2 temporarily. Musk made the announcement over social media on Sunday morning. The following day, he had already promised that version 10.3.1 would be coming out to address problems encountered during the exceptionally short public testing phase.

“Please note, this is to be expected with beta software,” the CEO noted. “It is impossible to test all hardware configs in all conditions with internal QA, hence public beta.”

Let’s get a few things out of the way before we dive into what actually happened. Despite Tesla promising vehicular autonomy via its expensive Full Self Driving suite for years, FSD may not actually be capable of living up to its namesake. Elon Musk has even stated that it probably would always require some form of supervision when feature-complete. At best, that leaves the completed suite achieving conditional automation (SAE Level 3) but falling short on its promise of delivering total self-driving functionality (SAE Level 5).

Had we teleported directly from 1991, even the worst versions of FSD would be a technological marvel. But we’re living in the years following a decade where the automotive industry promised that self-driving cars would be commonplace by 2020. It’s also becoming clear that the trade-offs for implementing unfinished versions of these systems may not be worth it. Manufacturers are advancing driver-monitoring protocols, including cabin-facing cameras that track eye and facial movements that seem to represent the anthesis of a luxurious automotive experience.

There are also mounting legal questions in regard to who is liable when an autonomous vehicle is involved in a crash. Despite reports highlighting the shortcomings of advanced driving aids, the industry would very much like to keep drivers responsible as a way to avoid seeing legal actions being taken against the business. This has also encouraged the influx of monitoring measures while making it imperative that self-driving systems function near perfectly — the latter of which has proven to be exceedingly difficult.

Based on the limited time the FSD beta was active, it’s difficult to get a real sense of what went wrong. However, there are numerous videos of citizens testing the system showcasing some reoccurring issues. Beta vehicles were obviously still having trouble dealing with construction zones and poorly marked lanes. Users also noted that cars became timider while using similar features, asking the driver to retake control under conditions where it previously would not. There were also a few social media postings alleging that their car was making decisions to deactivate certain safety settings without human input.

Reuters reported that drivers were experiencing Forward Collision Warnings when there was no immediate danger, sometimes with their Tesla braking automatically to avoid phantom obstacles. Ironically, that was one of the systems other users were claiming vehicles were mysteriously shutting off.

This may explain why Tesla required beta testers to be subjected to a safety score to qualify. But we’re not about to claim this is the best way for an automaker to operate their software development programs. Withholding access to a system that you paid thousands extra for (and doesn’t even work) because you failed to drive in a ridiculously conservative manner somehow doesn’t seem fair.

[Image: Tesla]

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31 Comments on “Tesla Removes Full Self Driving Beta Over ‘Issues’...”

  • avatar

    “including cabin-facing cameras that track eye and facial movements that seem to represent the anthesis of a luxurious automotive experience.”


  • avatar

    They really need to do a refund on the $10k, then pay people to do participate in the beta. Personally, I’d love to help them test it out. The problem is that I’m not doing it for free and definitely not paying $10k.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it was a scam all along. Now they can’t stop pretending to develop FSD because that would be an admission it was a scam all along, or a complete failure at which point they would owe everyone a refund.

      • 0 avatar

        What do you mean pretend to develop it? They’ve been releasing additional functionality for years.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Additional function still doesn’t make it “Full” self-driving. They pretend it will be, then say it never will be *exactly* self-driving.

          The charade has been going on for years.

      • 0 avatar

        “Now they can’t stop pretending to develop FSD because that would be an admission it was a scam all along”

        They are definitely developing it. I’ve seen it do some impressive things given the technology they are using. I was impressed with its ability to navigate down Lombard St. and not get fooled by parked cars. It does some things well. The thing is that as you get closer to full autonomy, the problems you have to overcome become exponentially more difficult. I think the people working on it genuinely think they can pull it off. It’s definitely not a scam. I’m a proponent of different technology and disagree with them, but the technology I favor is at least a decade away.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed – a company with $1 trillion in market cap should definitely be able to gin up some refunds.

  • avatar
    Vae Victis

    I guess that leaves us to do it the old fashioned way with a chauffeur.

  • avatar

    There’s bigger Tesla news then this…

    “Oct 25 (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O)surpassed $1 trillion in market capitalization on Monday after landing its biggest-ever order from rental car company Hertz, a deal that reinforced the electric car leader’s ambitions to top the entire auto industry in sales over the next decade.”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Elon Musk has even stated that it probably would always require some form of supervision when feature-complete.”

    If that’s true, then Tesla definitely needs to rename the product. Not to mention refunding people’s money before they file a class-action lawsuit.

    @Matt: You mention SAE Level 6, but I think you mean Level 5 because that is the highest proposed. Perhaps Level 6 reads the driver’s mind. :)

    • 0 avatar

      The trip not taken:
      The safest, most efficient;
      Good for the planet.

      This Monday Haiku Moment™ brought to you by Level 6 Autonomy and the Clean Air Task Force.

  • avatar

    What crash-test-dummy-wannabees did they recruit to be beta testers?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Ironically, it was people with the best recorded driving record.

      IMO, to really test FSD you want to put it into the hands of terrible drivers. That they didn’t told me all I need to know about the product.

    • 0 avatar

      “What crash-test-dummy-wannabees did they recruit to be beta testers?”

      I’d do it – I’d just expect to be paid to do it rather than the opposite. I have fast reflexes. I also know the underlying technology extremely well and know when it’s likely to fail. I have seen videos of the beta testers in action and these guys seem to be pretty good at knowing when to take over. These guys might actually be getting money from their youtube streaming, but probably not enough to cover the $10k. As I said, if they’d give me a Tesla and didn’t make me sign an NDA, I’d test it. Paying $10k, I don’t think so.

  • avatar

    “because reasons”

  • avatar

    I doubt anybody other than PT Barnum “promised” true self driving by 2020. They might have said they thought it would be available then, but “promise” actually means a lot more than vague aspirations.

  • avatar

    If we look back at the various players who did indeed promise the world on autonomous driving 5, 6, 7 years ago, the brave new world utopia was hyped by shiny-domed nerds of the mysterious silicon valley for whom a few million lines of code was mere piffle.

    Not one of these geniuses sat down and truly defined the problem of AD. Nah, they figured it would be a cake walk, so why bother? — they would use their amazing brainpower to overcome little “hiccups” as they came up and things went along. Hubris.

    And Chief of Hubriosity was one Elon Musk, who after reviving BEVs following 90 years of on-again off-again attempts to make the tech work for more than 30 miles in a row, examined the situation from all sides and declared himself a GigaGenius. Why, lithium ion batteries were the savior! Yus sir!

    And autonomous driving, why, he’d get his boffins on it and have Autopilot out by Xmas. Some year or another. Like the Model 3.

    So after attempt after attempt by various companies to make AD work, and all falling flat on their faces each and every time, some have quite rightly given up and said, “Maybe, later”.

    So Tesla’s horse-manure program Autopilot, with FSD Xtra Fiber and Oats and only cameras for sensors, is like a basketball. It has a core that size all right, but is now 6 feet in diameter. And the reason for that swelling to giant size is thousands of band-aid, what used to be called subroutines to handle specific special cases they’ve encountered, patches in fact not well-integrated with the main program, stuck on the core with Scotch tape, duct tape, spit and staples, and parcel twine wrapped around the whole lot to keep it in a single wobbly piece, sort of.

    If Musk, as Chief Whatever-the-Hell-He-Is was half as bright as he thinks he is, he’d admit Autopilot and FSD is a complete fiasco and failure. The entire problem of AD was way underestimated from the start. By him, by everybody. It’s time to sit down and properly define the problem. Then and only them, some fresh new thinking on how to tackle that situation can be formulated. That will tell what sensors are really needed, what is important in decision trees and so on in descending order. Right now, they’re all fumbling around in the dark sticking donkey tails blindly on a pig.

    The problem is obviously far bigger than the patched balls of wax they have now. Far bigger. The boundaries of what’s needed is a ball far greater in size than the ad hoc patching going on now on a mini-core. Hell, as I said, they haven’t defined its limits even yet because they do not understand the problem philosophically. It’s not just a tech exercise.

    Posky wrote something I really agree with for once: “Manufacturers are advancing driver-monitoring protocols, including cabin-facing cameras that track eye and facial movements that seem to represent the anthesis of a luxurious automotive experience.” There’s a prime example of a patch! Monitoring the driver! Ridiculous. That’s not AD.

    Everyone took the wrong fork in the AD road, and now stuck in a giant mudhole, they pretend they’ve got it handled just to stop a mutiny among investors who’ve put up billions to fund their failure. Paying customers? Who gives a damn about them? It’s become an exercise in saving face, nothing more.

    Time to start afresh and get serious from day one.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “It’s become an exercise in saving face, nothing more.”

      Agreed on that. Tesla – more than anybody – is in a very deep hole on FSD

      Mr Musk isn’t easily capable of admitting error, though, so I expect this story to play out to a bitter end.

  • avatar

    Lol at “re-education program”. Matt Posky can’t help himself. He has to bring politics into all his articles and include the buzzwords that red-hat wearing portion of the political spectrum have fallen in love with. His sneering contempt of Musk, Tesla, Tom Brady, apparently, and his embracing of the MAGA crowd are now an essential part of his articles. And anyone who denies that his mention of a “re-education program “ is a nod the their obsession of the CCP, is simply not being honest. In fact, it’s entirely consistent with the bulk of his work…

  • avatar

    if I spent that much on a car and FSD I wouldn’t want to be the beta tester for them. Granted it takes a long time to work out all the problems but until it’s ready for prime time they shouldn’t be charging $10K for something they aren’t actually delivering.

  • avatar

    Self driving has been a scam from day one.

    More proof Musk is nothing more than a snake oil salesman (sorry sales person….don’t want to offend the “woke”).

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