Tesla has released its Full Self-Driving system in beta form, with a small group of real-world owners gaining access to the semi-autonomous driving assistance feature. As the system slowly advances toward its promise of fully autonomous driving, the prices Tesla is charging new customers for access to the feature sometime in the future, when it’s actually available, have increased.
You see, buyers have been able to purchase the feature in advance of its official, usable rollout for quite some time. Before the beta test program launched, Full Self-Driving (or “FSD” in Tesla-speak) option ran $8,000 on any new Tesla Model 3 or Model S sedans or Model Y or X crossovers, but now the option’s price tag has jumped to $10,000. This isn’t a big surprise; Tesla has said the feature would get more expensive over time, and Elon Musk recently said so himself following the FSD beta testing announcement. Earlier this year, the system cost $7,000—an indication that buyers keen to get in on the ground floor and snag FSD capability for a deal are running out of time.
The automaker (well, CEO Elon Musk) assures the public that the testing rollout will be “extremely slow” and “limited to a small number of people who are expert and careful drivers.” Still, the automaker hasn’t made a public statement clarifying the extent of the system’s current capabilities, or released any information about safety protocols beta testers may have to follow. Someday, the system is supposed to enable cars to drive itself without any input from the driver. But for now, the feature still requires drivers to pay attention to the road, monitor what’s going on, and intervene immediately as needed.
Full Self-Driving will consist of Navigate on Autopilot, which actively guides your car from a highway on-ramps to off-ramps based on the destination entered into the navigation system. It will also make automatic lane changes; help with parallel and perpendicular parking, navigating a car into a tight space; auto steer on city roads in addition to freeways; and respond to or heed stop signs and traffic lights. Tesla has said Full Self-Driving will be available by the end of 2020, but it said as much about last year, that it’d come in 2019, so we’ll believe the company’s timeline when we see it.
The feature’s cost today offers additional hardware and sensors necessary for FSD capability, making it more advanced than Tesla Autopilot and ready for future autonomous-driving software when it becomes ready for prime time. For now, Autopilot can steer, accelerate, and brake the car automatically according to traffic within its lane on highways and certain surface streets; it is an advanced driver assist, not a self-driving feature, that basically combines a lane-keep system with adaptive cruise control. It is now standard equipment on all Tesla models.
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