Tesla Full Self-Driving: What it is, How Good it is, and More

Tesla full self-driving

Tesla Full Self-Driving: What it is, How Good it is, and More

Key Points:
  • Full Self-Driving (FSD) is a computer-driven driver assistance feature which can ease the burdens of daily driving, while making longer highway trips less tiring and demanding.
  • Features of FSD include: Summon or Smart Summon, Autopark, Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control Navigate on Autopilot, and Auto Lane Change.
  • Tesla’s FSD still requires the full attention of the driver, along with frequent inputs, but creates a smoother, easier, less bothersome driving experience for users.

Full Self-Driving or FSD for short is Tesla’s latest advance on the Autopilot feature for its electric vehicles, boosting its computer-driven driver assist to new levels. Version 1.0 of Tesla’s Autopilot hardware and software went live in late 2015. Today, Full Self-Driving is the system’s latest 3.0 iteration, being used in an on-road Beta by more than 100,000 drivers, according to Elon Musk.

Full Self-Driving, just like the earlier editions of Autopilot, is a computer-driven driver assistance feature and not an autonomous system by any imaginative stretch. Zooming down the highway in a self-driving robotic car while watching a movie or the landscape, eating, or taking a nap remains a dream of the future. But Tesla’s FSD can ease the burdens of driving, making longer highway trips, in particular, less tiring and demanding.

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving offers advanced features such as smart summon, autopark, auto lane change, and more.

What Full Self-Driving Offers the Tesla Driver

While not the AI-operated driverless automobile of science fiction, a Tesla EV outfitted with Full Self-Driving adds multiple capabilities above and beyond Autopilot’s fairly limited computerized assistance.

Basic Autopilot offers the following features:

  • Traffic-Aware Cruise Control or TACC: this system is meant for stop-and-start traffic on the highway, adjusting speed to maintain a selected distance from other vehicles and matching their speed. TACC spares the driver the need to constantly accelerate and decelerate and is the basis for other features.
  • Auto Steer: with TACC active, this maintains the Tesla vehicle’s position in clearly-marked traffic lanes. It includes blind-spot warnings of other vehicles and an optional “lane departure warning” causing the steering wheel to vibrate if the driver starts to edge out of the current lane without first activating the turn signal.

Full Self-Driving adds a small array of more advanced or improved quality semi-automated functions:

  • Summon or Smart Summon: calls the vehicle from a parking space to the driver’s current nearby location, including autonomous navigation of a parking lot.
  • Autopark: enables the vehicle to park itself using adjacent vehicles in either standard or parallel parking situations as reference points, with no driver input required in a best-case scenario.
  • Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control: slows and stops automatically at traffic lights and stop signs, though drivers note the vehicle occasionally runs stop signs if the driver doesn’t brake manually.
  • Navigate on Autopilot: self-drives the car from a highway entrance to a specific highway exit.
  • Auto Lane Change: enables the driver to change lanes simply by flipping on the turn signal in the desired direction. The vehicle will then use its sensors to detect a safe gap in traffic in the appropriate lane, then automatically steer into that gap.

Tesla says a major update to FSD has a release date slated before 2022’s end. This update, like previous ones, will likely include continued improvements to the accuracy and effectiveness of current features. Though this is pure guesswork at this point, some commentators also think city navigation will be included in the upgraded version.

How Good is Tesla Full Self-Driving?

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving still requires the full attention of the driver, along with frequent inputs, but does create a smoother, easier, less bothersome driving experience for many. Tesla requires drivers to confirm they will “keep [their] hands on the steering wheel at all times” and “maintain control and responsibility for [their] vehicle” when activating the system.

Areas where FSD shines include the Summon feature, letting users call their car to the curbside rather than negotiating a parking lot in rain, snow, cold, or darkness, and on longer highway trips where the convenience features automate many tiring, repetitive maneuvers such as lane changes. For certain routes, including on-ramp to exit highway driving, the Full Self-Driving system can drive the car by itself to a specific destination. However, this only works for certain well-mapped and favorable locations and still requires the driver to remain on constant standby, ready to take over if the system goes astray.

One interesting note regarding FSD’s features is that its Autopark function will mesh strongly with the CrabWalk ability of Tesla’s Cybertruck pickup. CrabWalk enables sidling into a parking space with the rear wheels turned at the same angle as the front wheels. The Cybertruck, and any other future Tesla vehicle engineered to CrabWalk, will be able to take full advantage of Autopark even in awkward parking situations.

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Tesla’s FSD system is undergoing on-road beta testing to gather information used for future, iterative improvements.

Tesla Full Self-Driving Availability

Tesla’s FSD system is now undergoing an on-road beta test to gather information used for future, iterative improvements. While the number of drivers able to access Full Self-Driving has reached six figures, at least according to Tesla’s claims, purchasing or subscribing to FSD doesn’t give automatic access to the system. Instead, it gives the ability to request access to the beta test.

Eligibility for the Full Self-Driving Beta is based on driver safety score, as HotCars reports. Originally, a 98 safety score was required, but recent reports from Tesla drivers cited by Teslarati indicate the threshold was lowered to 95 in early June 2022. Tesla’s goal is to enroll one million beta test members by year’s end, meaning access will likely be broadened further, creating more opportunities to test out FSD.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Close to Autonomy is Tesla’s Self-Driving Beta?

Tesla’s self-driving Beta still falls well short of Level 4 or Level 5 Autonomy. Level 5 is the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International designation for complete automation enabling a vehicle to drive everywhere under all conditions without a human driver present.

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving remains at Level 2 even according to Tesla’s own statements. This makes it a driver support system and not an automated driving system. As a detailed CleanTechnica review from early May 2022 asserts, FSD still falls well short of full autonomy in changing lanes, making unprotected turns, braking or swerving in response to nonexistent obstacles, problematic reactions to stop signs, and in various other ways.

What is Tesla’s Self-Driving Car?

Tesla does not currently produce a fully autonomous self-driving car as of summer 2022. Multiple EV models made by the company are partially self-driving, including those equipped with various generations of Autopilot and the recent Full Self-Driving upgrade, but these still require driver attention and input to operate.

Is Tesla Full Self-Driving Worth It?

Deciding whether Full Self-Driving is worth the additional cost is a subjective decision only the potential purchaser can make after weighing the pros and cons. Since all Tesla vehicles currently sold are equipped with Autopilot as standard, the car will have some “self-driving” features even without FSD, including automatic high beam, collision avoidance assist, lane assist, and speed assist.

Autopilot provides fairly robust, if basic, driver assistance, making driving smoother, safer, and less stressful, which may be enough for some drivers. Full Self-Driving adds features such as summoning, auto parking, freeway driving to specific exits, and enhanced lane changing. Some drivers complain that features like Autopark are unreliable and that the car may slow significantly during lane changes even when no other traffic is present.

Conversely, other drivers report satisfaction with the FSD upgrade. These individuals say FSD is extremely useful for commuting and/or frequent highway driving, where the system’s features are put to their best use. Summoning is also very popular since it eliminates the need for walking or searching through a parking lot for the vehicle, helping avoid exposure to storms or extreme cold, the crime risks of wandering through a large parking lot at night, and other inconveniences.

All these potential advantages and disadvantages are anecdotal and subjective, meaning user experiences may vary. One final potential advantage in favor of FSD is that a current installation sets the car up to easily upgrade to new self-driving features and utilities as Tesla develops and releases them.

How Do I Tell if a Tesla Has Full Self-Driving?

To determine if a Tesla you already own has Full Self-Driving, either the smartphone app or the Tesla website can be used. App information can be viewed by selecting ‘Upgrades,’ then ‘Purchased.’ “Full Self-Driving Capability” will be listed on the Purchased page if the car has FSD. On the Tesla.com account page online, click ‘Manage’ for the vehicle, then select ‘Details.’ The “Car Details” popup that appears will list “Full Self-Driving Capability” under the “Upgrades” heading if the vehicle is FSD equipped.

In determining whether a used Tesla for sale on the secondhand market includes Full Self-Driving, check the “additional vehicle information” screen to see what generation of Autopilot computer hardware is installed. Version 3.0 hardware is needed to operate FSD, though versions 2.0 and 2.5 can be upgraded for free to version 3.0 later. Navigating to ‘Settings,’ ‘Software,’ ‘Included Package’ should also show if Full Self-Driving is active on the used vehicle.

While FSD licenses cannot be transferred between vehicles, they are transferred between owners when a vehicle currently running Full Self-Driving changes hands through a sale.

How Much Does Full Self-Driving Increase Tesla’s Package Price?

The full self-driving option costs $12,000 since January 17, 2022, as originally announced in a tweet from Elon Musk. This is double its pre-pandemic $6,000 price tag in 2019 and a $2,000 price increase from the cost set in October 2020.

Currently, Full Self-Driving is tied to a single vehicle, not to an entire Tesla account. Installation and subscription costs must be paid separately for each vehicle equipped with FSD and FSD cannot be transferred between cars.

Can You Add Full Self-Driving Later to a Tesla?

The current version of Full Self-Driving can be added to Tesla EVs through the installation of Full Self-Driving 3.0 computer hardware. This costs $1,000 plus taxes. However, if the Tesla vehicle is already equipped with either the 2.0 version or the 2.5 version of the Autopilot computer, as of mid-2022 the 3.0 FSD computer will be installed for free.

Installation of a new FSD computer requires making a service appointment. Tesla notes the sequence of menu options to follow to set up the hardware installation is ‘Schedule Service’ > ‘Accessories’ > ‘Upgrades & Accessories’ > ‘Full Self-Driving computer.

During the installation, the service personnel will transfer all existing settings to the new computer. Current features will be retained and new Full Self-Driving features will be added in addition to, not in place of, familiar functions.

How Much Is the Subscription for Tesla’s Full Self-Driving?

A monthly subscription to the Tesla FSD service can be added (or canceled) through the Tesla app’s Upgrades menu. The cost varies depending on the EV’s Autopilot type. FSD subscriptions are $99 per month for vehicles equipped with Enhanced Autopilot and $199 per month for Teslas running Basic Autopilot.

Only vehicles with both Autopilot and the 3.0 version of the Full Self-Driving computer are eligible for these subscriptions.

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