Chinese Authorities Warm Up to the Idea of Allowing Tesla To Start FSD Beta Testing

Tesla fans rejoiced at the news that Chinese authorities greenlighted Tesla to start FSD Beta tests in Shanghai, although that was not technically true. Tesla China promptly dismissed the reports, even though similar denials proved to be true in the past. Still, there's a silver lining: Chinese authorities are warming up to the idea of Tesla testing the FSD Beta.
Tesla is one step closer to deploying FSD Beta in China 9 photos
Photo: Tesla | Edited
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Although many Chinese companies are well underway with autonomous-driving testing in China, Tesla has been denied the same privilege. The main problems were mapping local roads and processing data remotely, two concepts China considered related to national security. Things are set to change, even though Tesla is not yet getting the permit to test FSD Beta in China.

According to a report by CITIC Securities, an investment bank that also does market research and analysis, Shanghai Economic and Information Commission intends to deepen ties with Tesla, including by supporting its autonomous-driving ambitions. This would be the first time a local authority in China signaled that it is willing to accept Tesla FSD. Elon Musk's visit to China at the end of May is considered the catalyst of this change of heart. Musk was given royalty treatment during his visit to Beijing and Shanghai, and we know he met some high-level officials.

Still, FSD deployment is not a given, and Tesla still needs to address China's concerns about collecting and processing data. Current regulations stipulate that high-precision mapping, which includes collection, storage, transmission, and processing, can only be carried out by approved entities. Only 19 such entities are qualified to maintain and provide navigational map data in China, and Tesla is not among them. The EV maker will likely need to use a local provider since collecting mapping data takes time, even if Chinese authorities allow it.

There's another issue that Tesla has to address, and it's not an easy one. Tesla needs a lot of processing power to harvest the full potential of FSD Beta, which requires local supercomputer centers. Tesla Vision is a data hog, and machine learning takes a lot of model training, hence the Dojo supercomputer in the US. Even if Tesla is granted a permit to collect data in China, it will likely be forced to process it locally, as sending it back to the US is out of the question. Setting up a supercomputer center in China will also take time and resources.

Still, the trend is clear, and once Tesla overcomes these hurdles, it's pretty much open season, as long as China allows it. Tesla has a significant advantage over its Chinese rivals, as it has already polished the FSD Beta software. As Musk once said, 90 percent of the software capabilities can be used anywhere in the world, and only 10 percent has to be localized. Tesla only needs to sort out regulatory approvals to zoom past Chinese companies.

Although local companies have an advantage because they are already testing similar technology on local roads, Tesla has been doing this for much longer and has significantly advanced its software through many iterations. And let's not discount the advantage Tesla has in raw in-car processing capabilities versus its rivals, which are at least 2-3 years behind.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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