Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that its Full Self-Driving beta testing programme (announced in October 2020) will be rolled out to a wider pool of drivers, and it will do so in the next two weeks.
In response to a Twitter query asking if the self-driving beta software will be available in Minnesota, Musk said: “Probably going to a wider beta in two weeks.” The South African billionaire – and now second richest man in the world – had earlier said an update, which would make the system more dependable as beta testers collected more data, would be released by the end of the year.
Tesla said the current system enables owners to activate Autopilot and make use of its door-to-door self-driving functionality. Based on existing videos, the cars are able to negotiate itself at junctions and roundabouts (with autonomous use of signal indicators), obey traffic lights, and even stop for pedestrians.
These tests, however, are being closely scrutinised by the US’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It said in a statement: “NHTSA has been briefed on Tesla’s new feature, which represents an expansion of its existing driver assistance system. The agency will monitor the new technology closely and will not hesitate to take action to protect [the] public against unreasonable risks to safety.”
Researches, regulators and insurance groups have said that true self-driving is still years away from being a reality and more complex than companies expected years ago. These groups have also criticised Tesla’s promotion of the existing Autopilot system as being “dangerously misleading.”
To address this, the automaker implored users to exercise caution and pay full attention to prevent a dangerous situation from occurring. “Full Self-Driving is in early limited access Beta and must be used with additional caution. It may do the wrong thing at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road. Do not become complacent,” it said in a press release.
“Use Full Self-Driving in limited Beta only if you will pay constant attention to the road, and be prepared to act immediately, especially around blind corners, crossings, intersections, and in narrow driving situations.”
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