FSD already has trouble with hands-on.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is known for making major business and product decisions based on comments from his social media followers. But as we saw from the recent poll where his audience voted for him to step down as head of Twitter, he doesn't always follow through. In a tweet sent out on New Year's Eve, Musk responded to a Tesla fan account promising a hands-free update to Full Self-Driving (FSD).
FSD currently requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel, even though the vehicle can handle most of the steering. If owners try to take their hands off, the system will warn them to put them back on. When asked if Tesla could remove this limitation for owners with "more than 10,000 miles on the FSD beta," Musk responded, "agreed, update coming in Jan."
In case it's not clear by the name, FSD is not actually a fully autonomous system; it's what's known as a Level 2 ADAS system, similar to GM's Super Cruise or Ford's BlueCruise but without the ability to go hands-free. The FSD name has been deemed misleading, which is why Tesla will no longer be able to call it that in California.
It's clear that some owners have been lulled into overestimating FSD's capabilities, as evidenced by numerous crashes that have occurred while using the beta software. In our opinion, removing the hands-on requirement will only further increase the number of FSD crashes, especially since the beta has been opened to all Tesla owners. That means any Tesla Model 3 owner who forked over $15,000 may soon be able to drive hands-free.
Hands-free systems such as Super Cruise and BlueCruise have several safety measures in place before they can activate. They only work on mapped roads (such as divided highways) and have camera systems that watch the driver to ensure they are paying attention.
Since Tesla cars do not come with LiDAR, they can not implement the same measures. If Elon Musk follows through on this promise, the results could be potentially dangerous.