Auto Tech

Musk's promise of Tesla's 'full self-driving' features leaves plenty of questions

The automaker refused to elaborate for now on exactly what this promise entails.


Another day, another Elon Musk tweet that leaves us with more questions than answers.

The Tesla CEO tweeted out this weekend that the forthcoming Version 9 software update for Tesla vehicles will "begin to enable full self-driving features." It's likely that this is in reference to the "Full Self-Driving Capability" that Tesla offers as a $3,000 upgrade over its Enhanced Autopilot package, which costs $5,000.

When asked for an elaboration on his tweets, a Tesla spokesperson said the tweet is the extent of what they're sharing for the moment.

When Tesla first moved its vehicles to its upgraded hardware suite (referred to as Hardware 2.0 or HW2), it had most Autopilot-related features disabled. Over time, the automaker reintroduced the systems in a sort of staggered release. It's likely that any bolstering or enhancement of Tesla's advanced driver-assist systems will follow a similar schedule.

It's worth noting that it's very unlikely that the car will start driving itself right out of the box, but perhaps Tesla will divulge additional information before Version 9's planned release in August.

Tesla's "Full Self-Driving Capability" option makes some pretty grand promises on Tesla's website. Here's an example: "The system is designed to be able to conduct short and long distance trips with no action required by the person in the driver's seat... Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigate urban streets (even without lane markings), manage complex intersections with traffic lights, stop signs and roundabouts." It continues with a disclaimer, pointing out that it's not possible to know when each bit of the system will be enabled.

In the meantime, the automaker is continuing to crack down on those who would abuse its current Autopilot system. An update that started making the rounds last week, 2018.21.9, appears to increase the frequency with which drivers are notified to keep their hands on the wheel. One customer tweeted his displeasure about the more frequent "nags" to Musk, who replied with Autopilot's current dilemma, balancing the need for safety with the need to prevent abuse.