What Is Full Self-Driving Capability?

Aug 13, 2019   

Tesla has been sending emails to Enhanced Autopilot customers with an offer to upgrade to Full Self-Driving Capability at a reduced price of $3,000. But what exactly does that mean today?

Upgrading to Full Self-Driving Capability today ensures that a Tesla will continue receiving updates in the future that are designed with the goal of enabling full autonomy. Tesla had previously described this as a system that will enable owners to input an address and have their Tesla drive to their destination while navigating complex city streets and highways with no further driver intervention. If no address is inputted, the car can access a calendar to determine its destination.

In theory, this means that a Tesla owner can get in their pre-conditioned car in the morning and have their Tesla autonomously drive them to work with the tap of a button. In practice, Full Self-Driving Capability isn’t that simple.

Taken from Tesla’s blog:

“Eventually, your Tesla will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will synch with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.”

What Full Self-Driving Capability really adds are the building blocks to a vision of full autonomy. The company plans to build on features like Summon over time; for example, Enhanced Summon will enable a Tesla to navigate a parking lot and is expected to be released in the V10 software update. Once the final version of Summon is achieved, the goal is for it to enable a Tesla to be summoned from anywhere that’s connected by land.

Timeframes have historically been too optimistic for the company to realistically meet. Musk had Tweeted that Tesla would summon a Tesla from a California to a parking lot in New York in 2016, but the maiden voyage for Full Self-Driving has yet to happen.

Currently, Tesla has achieved level 2 autonomy with its Autopilot feature which can handle both steering and acceleration on freeways. Tesla has been adding features like Navigate on Autopilot that bring this functionality closer to level 3 under certain circumstances, but they still require a driver’s full attention and intervention when necessary. Full Self-Driving Capability, once complete, is expected to reach level 4 autonomy where the car can drive itself without driver intervention.

The goal is to reach level 5 which is the point where the car is able to navigate roadways under all conditions that a driver would be able to, and this may be necessary to truly offer all the features that Tesla has advertised as being part of its self-driving suite. Though it depends widely on regulators, Tesla intends for Full Self-Driving to enable level 5 autonomy in the future — an ambitious goal that may take several years to achieve.
Every Tesla sold since late 2016 includes the necessary cameras and sensors. Tesla has recently developed a new computer to complement the existing hardware that can handle the computations that make Full Self-Driving possible. Purchasing Full Self-Driving Capability guarantees that Tesla will replace the HW2.0/2.5 computer with their in-house FSD computer later this year.

Tesla’s promise is that all cars sold today will be capable of Full Self-Driving in the future, and the company plans to raise the price of Full Self-Driving Capability as more features are released. Owners can get locked in at the current rate by purchasing Full Self-Driving Capability through their Tesla account before the anticipated price increase that will occur to coincide with the launch of Enhanced Summon later this month. More features will be added gradually over time, which will eventually enable a Tesla to drive itself under most if not all circumstances.

At this time, there are no Full Self-Driving Capability features that aren’t already part of Enhanced Autopilot. This means that Navigate on Autopilot, Auto Lane Change, Autopark, and Summon are already included on cars with Enhanced Autopilot and will continue being updated for the foreseeable future. (Please note that base Autopilot, which is included on all new Tesla’s sold today, is exclusively traffic-aware cruise control with Autosteer. Please visit our guide for a complete breakdown on the differences between Autopilot and Enhanced Autopilot.)

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