Tesla Hacker Wants Company to Be Upfront About FSD Hardware Promises

Jason Hughes Urges Tesla to Keep Its Promises Regarding FSD Hardware 20 photos
Photo: Tesla/Jason Hughes
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Jason Hughes is also known as the Tesla Hacker. No one can accuse him of being a short seller or a FUDster, as any critic of the company’s actions is frequently classified. Despite that, he’ll probably hear that after publicly confronting Tesla to be upfront about its promises of Full Self-Driving hardware. He showed they date back from October 19, 2016.
Hughes went to Twitter to share a dispute he was having with the company. Elon Musk tweeted on October 22, 2021, that “early production cars will need camera upgrades, as well as FSD computer (all included in the price).” The Tesla Hacker wanted his cars to have the upgrade regardless of paying for FSD or not.

According to Hughes, he got into a “substantial back and forth” with the company about costs. He thinks there should be none considering that Tesla wrote on its blog on October 19, 2016, all cars would have “Full Self-Driving hardware.” On October 20, 2016, the company shared that blog post on Twitter, making the same promise.

As Hughes reasons, it was not for all car owners that paid for the FSD package, neither those that paid for future upgrades. It was for “all Teslas.” When the Tesla Hacker asked the company to stand up to its word, he heard “from the last person in the chain” that he should sue Tesla to get what it promised him and thousands of customers in the first place. And that’s probably what he will do.

Tesla Autopilot and FSD
Photo: Tesla
Elon Musk and Tesla made that same promise again on Tesla Autonomy Day on April 22, 2019. That was when the company announced HW 3.0. This “supercomputer” would make all Teslas autonomous when the company had the stable release of its software. Since then, customers have received new vehicles with HW 2.5, and Tesla announced a new chip that will make cars autonomous (again), based on Project Dojo.

Hughes had to block many Tesla fans that argued he was wrong, probably in a disrespectful way. Including himself as a Tesla supporter, he said that they “should be the ones most offended when they do something dishonest and hold them to a reasonable standard. We should not defend and twist when they go against what's clear in B&W.”

In other words, if Tesla said all its cars made after October 19, 2016, would have “Full Self-Driving hardware,” that’s what the company should stand for. Musk said the upgrades that are now necessary are included in the price, possibly meaning that those who paid for FSD are the ones who should get them. What Hughes argues is that it should be included in the price paid for the cars in light of Tesla’s promises.

Elon Musk
Photo: Tesla
For a company whose CEO considered “autonomous driving to be basically a solved problem” in 2016, that would be the right thing to do. If the company was wrong to promise that, it should admit it and upgrade this hardware for free to all customers who believed it knew what it was talking about. It clearly didn’t, but now it wants to evade responsibility for having said so.

Hughes is a Tesla researcher. He wants the hardware to understand how it works, even if he is not willing to pay $10,000 for FSD. It is not up to Tesla to decide if the hardware would be useless in a car without the software or not. If it said all its cars would have it, they have to have it: simple as that.

That leads us to another reflection on Tesla’s attitude. The company is deploying FSD Beta to thousands of new customers every week based on the promise it made in 2019 that all cars made from that point on would have all the hardware necessary for Full Self-Driving. That was not true, as Project Dojo demonstrates.

Tesla's Request Button for FSD Beta and How It Is Doing on Public Roads
Photo: Tesla
That said, what is the point of releasing beta software to be used in cars that do not have the necessary hardware to achieve full self-driving? If these cars will only attain autonomous driving with Project Dojo chips, why expose so many people to software that can’t do its job without the proper hardware, which is yet to be developed?

Perhaps Tesla should just stop making promises it cannot keep. That creates future liability such as the one Hughes will ask courts to enforce. The problem is that stopping with the autonowashing would probably affect Tesla’s irrational market cap. If it is based on the technology Tesla claims to have, the company should just deliver it. It promised to do so in 2016, in 2019, and we’re waiting for the next time it will promise the same thing again.

Meanwhile, customers like Hughes will try to hold the company accountable for its pledges while being bashed by those who fear what that may cause to their investments in Tesla. For someone who defended the company so many times in the past, such as against the sudden unintended acceleration accusations, it must be a bitter feeling. As Hughes states in his Twitter bio, he wants Tesla to succeed, but in the right way.

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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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