Tesla Owner Uses Two Weights To (Briefly) Turn a Model 3 With FSD Into a Robotaxi

Model 3 with FSD Driving Itself 13 photos
Photo: Tesla / Miss Jilianne on X / autoevolution edit
Tricking FSD into Driving a Model 3Tricking FSD into Driving a Model 3Tricking FSD into Driving a Model 3Tricking FSD into Driving a Model 3Tricking FSD into Driving a Model 3Tricking FSD into Driving a Model 3Tesla FSD Beta V12.3 first impressionsTesla FSD Beta V12.3 first impressionsTesla FSD V12.3 performing nerve-racking unprotected left turn across multiple lanesTesla FSD V12.3 performing nerve-racking unprotected left turn across multiple lanesTesla FSD V12.3 performing nerve-racking unprotected left turn across multiple lanesTesla FSD Beta V12.3 first impressions
Elon Musk has been keen on self-driving vehicles for quite a while. The eccentric executive believes in a future where you won't have to worry about getting behind the steering wheel. That's why Full Self-Driving Supervised (not Beta anymore, but not a "Release Candidate" either) exists. Unfortunately, turning that vision into reality proved to be quite the challenge. But here's a test showing that the SAE Level 2 advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) can take over a vehicle even when there's nobody sitting in the driver's seat.
Sadly, it's done on what seems to be a public road. So, first things first, here's a word of caution: don't try this yourself. It's not worth it. Not only do you expose yourself to a plethora of dangers, but you could also end up in a lot of trouble. All it takes is one wrong move or an impromptu meeting with law enforcement.

A (somewhat disgruntled) Tesla owner who paid $15,000 for the Full Self-Driving suite and a man decided to test if the carmaker's neural net-only ADAS can be tricked into thinking that there's a human behind the steering wheel and take control of the car. They also had another person joining them on this adventure who sat in the back row alongside the woman who filmed and posted the footage on X, formerly Twitter.

Keep in mind that the ADAS doesn't activate if a set of parameters isn't met. At a minimum, a human must be sitting in the driver's seat. Vehicles with FSD also perform periodical checks to confirm that the driver is paying attention to the road and keeps their hands on the steering wheel.

Tesla FSD Beta V12\.3 first impressions
Photo: @WholeMarsBlog via X
Multiple NHTSA recalls have also forced the automaker to make sure that its customers wouldn't abuse FSD and make it do things it shouldn't, just like it happened in this situation.

Not want you want to see

The people involved in this risky experiment used a steering wheel weight to convince the car that someone was holding at least one hand on the round helm, put a cattle bell on the driver's seat to trick the weight sensor of the same thing, fastened the seatbelt, and the passenger was also playing with the scroll wheel to not give FSD any room for doubt. They also turned Autospeed off and manually set the maximum speed limit to 20 mph.

The car allegedly had the latest FSD version (12.3.6) installed, which, at least in theory, should be a tad bit safer and more capable.

The good bit? The EV didn't start on its own. The front passenger had to press the accelerator pedal with his hand to make it move.

Tricking FSD into Driving a Model 3
Photo: Miss Jilianne on X
However, their attempt at turning a pre-facelift Model 3 into a robotaxi (somewhat) succeeded. The car drove itself for a few seconds at a speed of 20 mph (as set by the front passenger) before slowing down to 15 mph. There were no audible or visual alerts during that short period, indicating that FSD can operate a motor vehicle without a person acting as the driver.

Numerous rumors have been circulating about Tesla testing a secret FSD build codenamed "FSD Unsupervised" that requires no person to sit behind the steering wheel. When writing, the brand hasn't confirmed that as being true.

No need to panic

But before anyone jumps to conclusions, it's important to note that we don't know if the cabin camera was allowed to capture footage inside the car. Besides sensors, that optical unit is used to detect if the driver is there and paying attention.

Moreover, the test is too short. Had they continued for longer, the system would have likely started to give them all kinds of warnings.

Tricking FSD into Driving a Model 3
Photo: Miss Jilianne on X
On top of all that, it's our job to point out that even a vehicle with adaptive cruise control can be tricked into driving itself for short periods. Some of our readers may remember the famous Peugeot video (which has become a meme), where the driver appears incredibly excited about making the vehicle think that there is a person in the driver's seat. What's different is that the Peugeot was traveling on a highway, and it eventually crashed.

If you're disappointed that this isn't a real test showcasing that camera-based FSD can turn all of Tesla's EVs into robotaxis, don't be. Elon Musk announced that the automaker would launch a true robotaxi on August 8, which coincidentally happens to be a number most Asians consider lucky.

Finally, even though Tesla may be creative with naming its ADAS, it's important to underline that it provides customers with all the right warnings before they activate the system and has fail-safes in place. That's why they had to use weights in this test, for example.

The world's most valuable automaker wants to relieve drivers of their duty while behind the steering wheel, but it has not claimed that FSD can make a vehicle autonomous.

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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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