The announcement comes only days after California banned the software.
Tesla has announced on Twitter that more than 285,000 of its North American customers have purchased the controversial Full Self-Driving (FSD) software. The EV automaker had originally been aiming for around 1 million owners to have the technology by the end of 2022, but the current figure is still quite high. FSD has been in the news a lot lately, but not for a good reason.
Last week, the state of California passed legislation banning FSD because, in part, of its misleading name. Users could wrongly believe the software enables a Model 3 or any other Tesla vehicle to be fully autonomous. The reality is that FSD is rated at Level 2+ on the autonomous driving scale.
Level 5, which has yet to be attained, means no human involvement is necessary while the vehicle is in motion. FSD is really nothing more than an advanced version of Tesla's other semi-autonomous software, Autopilot. The California Department of Motor Vehicles previously declared that FSD was false advertising.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened at least 38 investigations into Autopilot following tragic crashes. The government safety agency is also currently investigating FSD following several incidents, most recently involving an eight-car pileup that happened over Thanksgiving. The owner of a Model S who had FSD activated claims the vehicle "braked unexpectedly."
Despite these incidents, it's clear there are still plenty of Tesla owners more than willing to fork over $15,000 for the FSD package. Like Autopilot, FSD utilizes AI software to make decisions regarding road and traffic conditions. The software is constantly acquiring data to improve itself.
Other companies, such as Waymo and Cruise, instead use LiDAR cameras that have been proven to be safer though they're not perfect yet. Tesla stresses that both Autopilot and FSD require the driver to remain focused on the road and ready to assume control of the vehicle with both hands at a moment's notice. Unfortunately, some drivers ignore or place little importance on this fact, hence the investigations and California's new legislation.