Safety regulators are not convinced by the controversial tech yet.
By now, everyone knows that any promise made by Elon Musk should be taken with a grain of salt. Then again, it can be argued that Musk's ability to keep his eye on the end goal regardless of the blatant obstacles in his way is the reason for Tesla's runaway success.
A few months ago, Musk proclaimed that he wants the company's Full Self-Driving (FSD) tech to be released in the USA by the end of the year. It was another ballsy statement considering the scrutiny that Tesla's partially autonomous systems have been under this year, but unfortunately for Musk, his company has suffered another setback. It's now confirmed that FSD will not receive regulatory approval in 2022. Human oversight will still be required for FSD, but this won't surprise many.
According to Reuters, Musk was discussing Tesla's quarterly results in a call this week when he said that regulatory approval will not be achieved this year. Unsurprisingly, this indicates that safety authorities are not yet satisfied with FSD's ability to take over all driver functions safely.
On vehicles like the Tesla Model 3, the misleadingly named Full Self-Driving Capability suite is a $15,000 option. It contains all the functions of Autopilot and Enhanced Autopilot, while adding features like Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control. For what seems like an eternity, Tesla has also promised the addition of Autosteer on city streets as part of FSD.
Despite the lack of confidence conveyed by authorities, Musk remained optimistic about FSD's capabilities, saying he expected upgraded FSD beta software to roll out to customers who ordered it by the end of the year. Whether that actually materializes or not remains to be seen.
"The car will be able to take you from your home to your work, your friend's house, [and] the grocery store without you touching the wheel," he said. "It's a separate matter as to [whether] it will have regulatory approval. It won't have regulatory approval at that time."
A further update to FSD is expected in 2023 which is supposed to convince regulators that the tech is safer than the average human driver, a point that Tesla will have to work hard to prove in light of some of the incidents involving its cars this year.
The regulatory approval that Musk wants for FSD may be further away than he initially thought, however. "Musk is opening the possibility Tesla will have a more difficult path to approval for FSD given heightened NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and other scrutiny," said Craig Irwin, an analyst at Roth Capital.
That sentiment was echoed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) which tersely said this week that it "has an ongoing review of the intended design and technological capabilities of Tesla vehicles."
While the EV giant has at least made some progress with the start of production for the Tesla Semi earlier this month, FSD looks set to remain a contentious affair in the short term.