Elon Musk announced plans for Tesla to release the Full Self-Driving (FSD) software for all customers who purchase the capability by the end of 2020 at the Q3 earnings call for stockholders. The latest version of FSD, which is currently in beta, will be capable of “zero-intervention drives”.
“We’re starting very slow and very cautiously because the world is a very complex and messy place,” Musk said of the relatively slow pace of beta testing and updates to FSD. “We put it out there last night, and then we’ll see how it goes, and then probably release it to more people this weekend or early next week. Then gradually step it up until we hopefully have a wide-release by the end of this year.”
Some drivers have already received FSD as part of a limited early release and the ongoing beta testing. The early release is already sending data back to the AI-based Neural Network, which will help to improve FSD’s performance over time. At first, drivers may notice that the system becomes more accurate over time.
The Neural Network has already received data from over 3 billion miles’ worth of driving and, based on the strong and rising sales of Tesla vehicles, is likely to rapidly accelerate its collection of data. Tesla is also ramping up its production capacity and is likely to have the ability to produce as many as 1 million electric vehicles per year in the near future. Elon Musk has even hinted that the Gigafactory will soon be made “obsolete” by the upcoming Terafactories.
The planned rollout is in line for Tesla’s plans, which include a fleet of Robotaxis that will require both the ability to handle zero-intervention drives and the “Car Access” feature, which will enable Tesla owners to decide who is authorized to enter and use the Tesla. As one might imagine, the “Car Access” feature can work alongside the onboard cameras as part of Tesla vehicles’ security system.
Elon Musk has become known for his overly optimistic timelines, which currently include the idea that SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft could start flying to Mars as early as 2024. For reference, NASA currently plans to start flying crews to Mars sometime in the 2030s and even that may be questionable, considering that NASA’s funding relies on the whims of D.C. politicians.
It’s very possible that the full release of Full Self-Driving could slip to next year. This, however, may not hurt Tesla’s sales or stock place very much, considering that Musk has also announced plans to expand to India and Tesla continues to develop infrastructure to support Tesla owners with new charging stations in Germany and Pasadena, California.