Elon Musk has called Tesla’s pricey $10,000 full self-driving option "amazing by most standards, but we are aiming for 1000% safer than the average human driver,” Here’s our take after 10 minutes behind the wheel with Tesla’s tenth FSD beta release. We’ll all be dead before Elon ever achieves that goal. And, unless you’ve chosen today as your last day above ground on Planet Earth, turn this "feature" off and leave it that way. Better yet, don’t buy it.

To give you some idea of the functionality, take a toddler out to the farm and put them on a tractor alone pointed to the nearby barn. Then put the tractor in gear and tell the toddler you’ll meet them at the barn, but you prefer to walk. Odds are you’ll get there first. But you may never see the toddler alive again. One thing’s for certain with FSD, Tesla won’t have to nag you to keep your hands on the steering wheel. You’ll be holding on for dear life!

We’ve managed to keep our sense of humor about all of this for a couple of reasons. First, we’ve been gobbling up Elon’s bullshit for almost five years, and we’re on our second Tesla with Full Self-Driving. If you’ve read our previous Tesla articles, you already know that our first Model S departed on a tow truck. But, you know what they say about pioneers loving the arrows in the back. It wasn’t long until we bought a Model X with Full Self-Driving after a two year stint with a Jaguar I-Pace. Well, we’ve had the Model X almost two years and still no FSD. So we decided to trade it for a more comfortable car, and we’ve been awaiting the arrival of an Audi Q8 which we’ll enjoy until the Cadillac LYRIQ with SuperCruise becomes available.

Lo and behold, the day before the Q8 was scheduled to arrive, the magic light went on signaling the arrival of FSD on our Model X. All of a sudden we had the best of both worlds, a new car with no deposit arriving tomorrow and the chance to try out FSD to see if we’d prefer to keep the Tesla. We thought it would be a difficult decision considering all the hoopla (a polite word) surrounding FSD. It wasn’t. We took the Tesla a couple miles from home on well-marked roads and told the car to take us home. Disengagement is a word Tesla uses to describe a situation in which the autopilot software fails and the driver needs to take control of the car. The number of FSD disengagements returning home must have set a record. I lost count at a dozen. The simplest maneuvers such as avoiding a trash can on the curb of the road or making a turn into a street with two incoming lanes were met with alarming machinations not unlike the toddler driving the tractor. Could we have made it home alive? We weren’t sure. Nor were we brave (or patient) enough to find out.

We’re recounting this fiasco to warn you of the dangers of using FSD. It also makes us wonder how federal, state, and local authorities have ever allowed Elon’s science experiment on public roads. It really is that dangerous. And finally, we wanted to save you $10,000 should you decide to buy a Tesla. There’s a reason you won’t find FSD on demo vehicles at Tesla showrooms. And that should tell you everything you need to know.

Originally published: Wednesday, December 1, 2021

This article has 8 comments

  1. I know you have increasingly become disappointed with Tesla, but I have to say among many, many owners I know (some with FSD) your experiences are the only I am aware of anecdotally that are near opposite of all others (myself included, our 3rd Model X we expect to get in the next 30 days or so). Not sure why, maybe just got the odd duck vehicle, etc. which I am truly saddened to think may have happened (you are the best as all of us are grateful for!) — but folks I know with FSD are blown away at the driving accuracy & ability to navigate trash cans, cyclists, cones, etc. while still safely/practically traveling to destination — exceeding most daily drivers skills these days (sadly). What I have seen also, mind blowing.

    Anyhow, to those who may read your experience I would offer to keep an open mind & try one out themselves if/when possible – when autonomy comes it will likely be from Tesla far, far, far before anyone else … as for public road testing, it is useful to keep in mind no great advancements in history were ever made in a lab/controlled-environment alone & their safety record is an order of magnitude better than any auto manufacturer in history (and improving).

  2. Relax. Skynet has been self-aware for a few years already and nothing weird happened, right?

    https://xkcd.com/1046

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skynet_(Terminator)

  3. Just completed a 500-mile roundtrip to Asheville in our new Audi Q8. What a car! Audi barely mentions that the 2022 edition comes with lane-keeping assist. And, if you’re curious, it is flawless. No dangerous lane darts into other lanes as we experienced regularly with both of our Teslas. Run to your nearest Audi dealer and buy this car if you can find one. You won’t be disappointed. Here’s how Audi’s Adaptive Cruise Control stacks up against Tesla’s AutoPilot.

  4. And you can (I always have) permanently disable the lane changing feature with a tap, in Tesla’s AutoPilot, for a more apples to apples experience with other systems from legacy auto. The ability to assist the Audi system without it disengaging is interesting – not sure if that is really better or worse though, I guess depends on the correction being made and if it can distinguish between minor (fine) & major (disengagement should absolutely be happening!) – I am sure more will be reviewed on that as cars get on the road (and if it does distinguish, I am guessing a quickie software update will add that feature into AutoPilot which will be nice!)

    [WM: I’m reminded of the mom who goes to watch her little boy in the school parade and remarks to her friend that her little boy is the only one in step. Tesla’s AutoPilot claim has been the Big Lie since Day One. All of the other car manufacturers provide a clearly-labeled driver assist feature. The problem with AutoPilot is you can’t assist the car in staying in its lane. You literally have to seize control of the steering wheel by yanking on it which also turns off AutoPilot. With the other vehicles including the Audi, you simply guide the car back into its lane if it should ever lose its way. In our 500+ mile journey, the Audi never lost the center of the lane a single time. Wish I could say the same about our two Teslas.]

  5. Interesting. Furthest I have gone was 220 miles at a time and our 2nd X never lost the lane center either – terrain, edge cases, etc. likely the difference.

    As I mentioned, if Tesla decides to add the ability to make small corrections without disengagement might be nice update, but I still have concerns system not sensing the difference to larger correction (i.e. I need the system off now!) which would be a serious safety hazard.

    FWIW – as of Q2 2021 cumulative data – 1 accident per 4.41 million miles driven on Tesla AutoPilot … vs 1 accident per 1.2 million miles driven by Tesla’s w/o AutoPilot on … not too shabby

    [WM: It wouldn’t be a safety hazard in a non-Tesla vehicle because the driver’s steering ALwAYS takes precedence over the LKA controller. That’s the major drawback in the Tesla approach because the driver can’t steer the vehicle without first turning off AutoPilot. As for the stats, Tesla is the only company keeping tabs on your AutoPilot history, but it would appear logical that the LKA feature in other vehicles would yield similar results… minus the firetruck gotchas.]

    https://cleantechnica.com/2021/12/07/tesla-1-crash-per-4-41-million-miles-traveled-on-autopilot/

  6. Glad you’re happy with the Q8. Adaptive Cruise control isn’t FSD. I’ll agree with you, FSD is a pipe dream. That said, Still way happier with Autopilot 1 on a 2015 S. So long as I recognize it’s limitations, it’s the perfect companion for the long highway commutes I have. Somewhere along the way Elon lost sight. Is the goal safer driving, or Full Autonomy? IMHO Tesla lost their way when they stopped offering EAP (Enhanced Auto Pilot) on the AP2 and higher vehicles. (or, of which AP1 can do most of the EAP functions).

  7. I test drove a Tesla with self driving. We hopped on Interstate 80 and set the cruise to 75. I turned on self-driving and gingerly took my hands off the wheel. All seemed great and I was super excited. All of a sudden, we started swerving all over the lane. He had me pull off at the next exit and he did something on the panel to the mothership. The panel said it was recalibrating the cameras. We got back on the interstate and self-driving worked ok. I ended up getting a used Porsche 911 for slightly more..

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