Blown Away

Tonight is going to be a historic night. Around midnight, Tesla will roll out FSD Beta 10.2 and with it expand the release to ~1,000 additional testers who scored 100/100 on Tesla’s “driver safety score” assessment. To commemorate this historic night, I wanted to share a little story with you about showing FSD Beta to people who hadn’t heard about it. Enjoy.

After having lunch with a big group of friends in Los Angeles yesterday, I was sitting in my parked car when three of the guys from lunch ran into me. They asked me if I’d give them a ride to the house we were all staying at and when I said “of course”, they hopped into my Tesla Model 3 Performance.

Of course, I had to tell them: “This car is running Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta software. Let’s see if it can get us home”. They looked at me like they weren’t sure if I was serious, but I assured them I was and turned it on.

As we cruised down the beachfront boulevard filled with pedestrians, cyclists, app scooters and everything in between, the Tesla’s FSD visualization lit up to show all of them. “Wow!”, one of my passengers remarked, “look at all the people it sees!”.

“Of course, that’s nothing”, I told him. “Watch what it does here with this upcoming left turn”. As fast moving traffic rushed past us on both sides, the car slid into the left turn lane. It waited until all the traffic had passed, and then started making the left turn slowly as a pedestrian crossed the street, making sure to give them enough time to pass. “No fucking way” one of my passengers said.

The street we turned into had no line lines and was only wide enough for one car at a time. As luck would have it, another car was coming straight for us just as we completed the left turn onto the road. No matter — the car gracefully moved over, let the car pass, and then moved back into the road and continued on forward. When the passengers saw that, they were blown away. When they saw it happen again with another car a minute later, their jaws were on the floor.

Finally, as we approached the house, a mother and her daughter decided to exit their car that was parked on the side of the road. The Tesla automatically slowed, and moved further away from them to give them extra space before completing the right turn. After that, we were home. The software had taken us from the restaurant back to the house with zero disengagements. “I can’t believe it”, someone said, “I’m blown away”.

I smiled and asked: “Oh yeah? Want to see what it’s like to drive this car manually?”. Then I floored it from 0 – 60 in around 3 seconds. The reaction was visceral and emotional. “Holy hell”, “It’s like a roller coaster”, “I felt my balls shoot back into my stomach”, and “how is that even possible” were some of the comments I heard between their screams.

Later that night one of the passengers said, “I’m thinking about getting a Tesla now, after that ride”. We’ve all seen nice cars that impressed us, but when people see a Tesla for the first time they’re always completely blown away. It’s not just a nice car, it redefines your perception of what is physically possible.

This story isn’t special. In the last year of testing FSD Beta, I’ve seen this kind of reaction all the time. People are blown away by the fact that this kind of software exists. Just a few weeks ago, I remember giving a ride to someone who had performed some services on my car outside his home (I found hm on Yelp). After the car took us to his local Target and back with zero disengagements, he said “my mind is blown“. He had no idea that this kind of technology was available on a car you could buy today, and he was a big car guy!

Now, all your experiences on FSD Beta are not going to be perfect — especially with these first early versions. You will have to take over many times when the software tries to do something you don’t want it to do. Some of these takeovers may shock or scare you, and you’ll definitely have a weird feeling in your stomach when you first try it out. Many may even decide that using the software at this early stage is not for them… and that’s ok. It’s your choice to use or not use it as you like.

It’s been a long, difficult, and often frustrating road to get here but this isn’t the end of Tesla’s self-driving journey. For users, this is just the beginning. This is day 1. The road ahead to true driverless cars will have its ups and downs. There will be happy days, like today, and sad days when setbacks happen, like this past Friday. Nevertheless, with this first expansion of FSD Beta we’ve reached a turning point where autonomy becomes truly inevitable. Once you put something in peoples’ hands, they don’t want to let go. It’s a truly historic moment, and it all starts tonight. When the clock strikes midnight in California, everything changes forever.

I hope that you enjoy using and testing FSD Beta as much as I have. I hope that it sparks your imagination, excites you, and blows your mind the way it has for so many others. And most importantly, I hope you share your feedback, complaints, and compliments to help push this technology forward towards true driverless reliability. (Keeping in mind that there are horrible people who will twist any feedback you give to try and slow the pace of innovation for their own financial gain).

There are a lot of people who say we can’t be trusted to run this kind of software on our Teslas. Let’s prove them wrong. Let’s be extra careful, and pay extra attention. Let’s keep each other in check if we see any abuse of the system or unsafe behavior. Being one of the first people in the world to have a privately owned car with highly advanced automation is an enormous responsibility. I trust you all with that burden, and if you got 100/100 Tesla already does too. It won’t be long now before every FSD customer has the latest rewritten software.

This is the start of something really big. We can’t make enough electric vehicles to replace all the polluting cars on the road in time to avoid horrible consequences. Making all of those electric vehicles autonomous and allowing them to be shared by many people is the key to transitioning to sustainable energy & transport as fast as possible.

Enjoy FSD Beta tonight, and please be safe. I hope you’re just as blown away as my passengers yesterday.

4 thoughts on “Blown Away

  1. Nice write up, and good description of some of the edge cases it handles with ease, the sort that other autonomous solutions will still be struggling with in 10 years – G

  2. Very good article that has soothed me. Getting and using FSD is a huge responsibility, not a popularity contest…I trust the process. Thanks so much

  3. Awesome write up! This is getting me so pumped for a wider rollout of FSD Beta. I can’t wait to get it in my car (I’m in a RHD market, so not for a while!).

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