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Full Self-Driving Beta Release Is Tesla's Most Irresponsible Move so Far

Here's a public safety announcement: Tesla released its Full Self-Driving Beta enhanced driver's aid system (please note the contradiction) last week, so expect a lot of the owners picked for the experiment - sorry, trial run - to test it out on the street.
Do you find that statement malicious toward Tesla in any way? There might be a faint trace of irony but remove the "experiment" part and you'll be left with nothing but cold hard facts. The EV maker did launch a beta version of its system and, despite the name, it is only intended to assist the driver, not allow them to put their feet up.

What do you think would happen if I posted that on the r/teslamotors subreddit? Would people ignore it, try to argue against it, acknowledge it, or just send tons of abuse my way? Well, given what just happened, my now informed guess is it would be the latter, followed by a quick and permanent ban.

Three days ago, Reddit user PM_ME YOUR_MEMERS posted something a lot more sensible on that subreddit only to get a very unceremonious kick out the door. The title of his post was this: "With the release of Full Self-Driving to the public, I think it's important that people read this and understand what Tesla is trying to tell us."

Indeed, Tesla accompanied the release of its FSD Beta with some advice for its future users. The company says the new system "must be used with additional caution" (compared to the current Autopilot, presumably) and that "it may do the wrong thing at the worst time".

Excuse me, what? If there was ever a reason no to test the system on public roads with amateur drivers, it's there, black on white, coming out straight out of Tesla's mouth. It may do what? So, in other words, you, the user, are willingly agreeing to act as our unpaid tester and take all the risks that we, the company providing the service, should have taken instead.

Why would anyone agree to that? To feel like they're part of what's driving the technology forward? Because Tesla is making them feel pretty good about themselves for being part of this select group that tests the FSD Beta? Because it's fun to think you own a self-driving car ahead of everyone else? Because people notoriously do stupid things thinking "it won't happen to me?" My guess? All of the above.

The thing with all this is that it doesn't potentially affect just the people inside the FSD Beta-running Tesla, but others around as well. That's why the Reddit user we mentioned before (whose name we won't repeat because it's all caps and nobody likes that) felt compelled to point out the risks and dangers, and he did it in a very neutral and objective way (full text below). Not hate speech, no bashing Tesla or Elon Musk. Just a balanced view of what he considered to be a dangerous situation.

Somehow, though, the people running said subreddit didn't like it, so not even did they remove the post, but they also banned him permanently. Since we think he makes a very valid point, we decided to do our bit and perpetuate his message to our readers because, let's face, once the novelty period is gone and the FSD Beta users begin to trust the system more than they should, they will begin to slowly but surely lose focus while they sit in that driver's seat.

If you don't believe me, try this: ride shotgun in a car and attempt to maintain driver-level focus throughout the entire trip. You may do it for a while, but since you know you're not really the one doing the driving, your brain will tell your subconscious that you can relax. And everyone wants to relax. That's precisely what will happen with people asked to monitor the new FSD Beta, and that's when the "it may do the wrong thing at the worst time" part becomes the scariest.

Here is PM_ME_YOUR_MEMERS' full post:

"For the users who get the FSD beta between now and his "wide release at end of year":

It's very, very clear they're not confident in how the car will behave. "Must be used with additional caution." You should be at the same level of alert and caution when driving a 2 ton metal moving box. But because the car is absolutely GOING TO BEHAVE SPORADICALLY, you will need to be more alert and attentive than normal. No going on phones at stop lights. No changing the climate "for just a quick second". You need to be laser focused at all times.

"It may do the wrong thing at the worst time". This is literally telling you that it can kill you or someone else if you're not laser-focused all the time. I'm not trying to scare anybody, but the "wrong thing at the worst time" could mean accelerating through a light that just turned red, or speeding up because a car leaves your lane only for someone to go down the street in an electric wheelchair (this is common where I live...).

"Use Full Self-Driving in limited beta only if you pay constant attention to the road, and be prepared to act immediately, especially around blind corners, crossing intersections, and in narrow driving situations." This covers a lot of city driving situations. There are certain cities that will be probably more fine than others, but I'd be very wary in construction, new roads, weird intersections that you have to turn slight right/left to go straight (again, common where I live...). In fact, I might not even use them in that scenario because it's just not worth it. We've been driving cars for a very long time without any assistance before. There's nothing wrong with being in control of your car.

Before you all flame me and say this is "common knowledge", I've seen videos of people on their phones while using autopilot, people sleeping, watching videos, etc. Just be smart when you get it. It's not worth losing your life or killing someone else. And no, I'm not being extreme. These are very real possibilities that need to be considered when doing any action while driving... but especially when you're not maintaining direct control of the vehicle.

Be safe and drive smart."


 
 
 
 
 

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