Tesla is giving its drivers more control over the car’s Autopilot suite with a new license that lets them use all of its features. Dubbed “FSD,” this fully self-driving capability is only offered to Tesla employees as a beta test, but the company will soon extend access to anyone in North America who requests it.
Basically, these days you own the hardware, Tesla owns the software and knowledge about how to combine those two things — and the driver gets to take on a heightened responsibility and sense of ownership for their car when they get FSD privileges.
“We’re going to be expanding that beta to the broader public,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk told the company’s shareholders yesterday. “Full-self-driving capability is a feature that would be offered for free to any owner of our current hardware and software. As such, it would only be available to those who already own a Tesla. That said, in order for us to offer FSD publicly, we will need to have regulatory approval at the state and federal level.”
Musk didn’t say when FSD would be available to non-Tesla employees, but sources familiar with the development of this technology are saying it could take more than a year. The CEO did mention that there are other ways to access FSD, which is what Tesla has been referring to as “enhanced Autopilot” until now.
You can use $5,000 in optional upgrades (Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability), if you paid $5,000 for your car or Model 3 back when it came with just Autopilot activated. Then you get another $3,000 to activate Full Self-Driving Capability; that could be the only way to get FSD if you’re not a Tesla employee.
Tesla is trying to sell this as a life-changing product, but I don’t think anyone here would claim that it isn’t when they start driving again. A lot of drivers will probably opt not to buy more expensive car features, because they don’t want to deal with the Autopilot headaches, but those who do will be thrilled by this change and all the improvements around it.