In other words, a complete media blackout.
Before Tesla released its Full Self-Driving Beta 10.1 last Friday night, the Level 2 driver-assist system was only being used by hand-picked company employees and private owners. No one outside of this small circle and Tesla management, including CEO Elon Musk, knew exactly what was going on. State safety authorities were alarmed, especially since there's an ongoing investigation over Autopilot. Since last week's release, there have not been any reported crashes or related incidents, which is very good news. But what was happening during the testing period?
A new report from Vice News claims Tesla required those with early FSD access to sign nondisclosure agreements.
These drivers were forbidden to speak to the media or give test drives. Tesla shut down its PR department nearly a year ago so it's not possible to reach out to the company for comment. But the report states that these test drivers were encouraged to "share on social media responsibly and selectively… consider sharing fewer videos, and only the ones that you think are interesting or worthy of being shared."
Essentially, the entire NDA frames Tesla and these early drivers as going up against the world in their mutual quest to get FSD up and running. It's really more of a rallying cry.
"Do remember that there are a lot of people that want Tesla to fail. Don't let them mischaracterize your feedback and media posts." Testers were also required to handle criticism on their own if they shared anything like photos, videos, or details about how the system works. These people literally became the PR department Tesla won't pay for.
FSD is available on the cheapest Model 3 to the most expensive Model X Plaid, and it's not exactly cheap. It can be had for $10,000 or for $199 a month as a subscription. Even the name 'FSD' is causing controversy because it's not a Level 5 self-driving system. FSD is rated at Level 2, the same as Autopilot. There's growing concern among authorities that drivers will fail to understand this.