Tesla is pushing a free one-month trial of its FSD Beta driver-assistance software to U.S. customers


Tesla is about to start giving every customer in the U.S. a one-month trial of its $12,000 driver-assistance system, which it calls Full Self-Driving Beta, provided they have a car with the compatible hardware. The company is also reportedly mandating, at CEO Elon Musk’s request, that prospective buyers are given a demo of the software before they purchase a new Tesla.

The full-court press to promote FSD Beta software, an upgraded version of the Autopilot system that comes standard in all Tesla vehicles, is happening at an interesting moment for the company. It’s the end of the first quarter of 2024, and Tesla usually pulls out all the stops — including having executives help deliver cars to customers — to meet or beat its sales goals. Tempting customers with a new incentive could be one way to help boost sales, although it could backfire if prospective customers are turned off by Tesla adding extra steps to its usually-streamlined buying process.

It’s also just a few weeks before Tesla goes to trial in a civil lawsuit brought by the family of Walter Huang, who died in a 2018 crash while using Autopilot. Huang was distracted at the time — investigators ultimately discovered that he had been playing a mobile game just before the crash — but the lawsuit centers around how Tesla represented Autopilot’s capabilities, and whether it did enough to prevent drivers from misusing it. (The NTSB investigation into the crash, which wrapped in February 2020, determined that Tesla did not, though it is only able to issue safety recommendations.)

The decision to temporarily increase access to the FSD Beta software comes as Tesla has been rolling out a new “V12” version of the software that ditches the previous code in favor of a system that runs entirely on neural networks. Many of Tesla’s most ardent supporters have praised the new version, as well as some of its employees and executives, including policy head Rohan Patel, who posted on X that he feels “fully comfy telling my family to try out FSD anywhere.”

But not everyone has had a smooth experience with the software.

By expanding access to FSD Beta beyond the few hundred thousand or so customers who’ve already paid the $12,000 price tag (or, if they ponied up a few years ago before the price cut, $15,000), Tesla will get access to more video data that it can train its neural nets against. But it also means the software could wind up in the hands of significantly more people who may not pay as close attention to the company’s instructions that drivers need supervise the software at all times, and be ready to take over if something goes wrong.





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By asm3a