On Sunday, while you were chilling with friends and family, Elon Musk tweeted a major setback for the latest version of Tesla’s automated self-driving software.
Dubbed full self driving, or FSD, Musk took to social media, revealing the company is “seeing some issues with 10.3, so rolling back to 10.2 temporarily,” reads the tweet, adding. “this is to be expected with beta software.” The tweet also noted that the company’s quality assurance has noted “regression in some left turns at traffic lights found by QA in 10.3. Fix in work, probably releasing tomorrow.”
Musk suggests the problem is simply par for the course.
“Please note, this is to be expected with beta software. It is impossible to test all hardware configs in all conditions with internal QA hence public beta.”
All mistakes in the spotlight
Given the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a broad investigation of Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system in August as the number of Tesla autonomous driving crashes has increased, the fact that the company is doing its beta testing on public roads using customers as test drivers can’t help matters.
The system in question is a Level 2 system, far from the Level 5 system that Musk once boasted the company would achieve “this year” during taped remarks broadcast at the opening of Shanghai’s annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference in July 2020. Level 2 autonomy is where defined as the ability of a car to accelerate and steer, but the driver must always be ready to take over, something offered by rivals such as Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac.
Evidently, the software updated to facilitate left-hand turns. While clearly an advance, the system remains, at best, a Level 2 system, and not “full self driving” as the name, which many contend is deceptive, suggest. Currently it’s a partial self-driving system.
Published reports state Tesla owners of the new software removed 10 – 10.2 versions of the FSD software.
Big advances come with big price tags
FSD is sold as a $10,000 option, although the company also admits that it requires active driver supervision and does not make the vehicle autonomous.
Even so, the possibility that Tesla has some magic bullet other automakers do not has once more propelled the company’s shares up 40% during the last three months, and nearly 11% in the past five days. Clearly, Wall Street views this as a temporary setback, with the feature contributing to future strong sales growth.
It’s something the company confirmed last week when it reported a third quarter earnings record of net income of $1.6 billion on revenue of $13.8 billion. Furthermore, the two top-selling models, the Model Y and Model 3, sell in greater numbers than the rest of the EV top 10 combined.
And, with new production facilities and products coming online soon, the company expects to see a 50% average annual growth in vehicle deliveries during the next few years.
For Tesla, this software setback in merely a momentary delay in its continuing growth story.