Oh, where to begin?
Late last month, Tesla finally released its long-awaited Full Self-Driving Beta software. Some owners had been waiting since 2018 for access. They also paid thousands of dollars for a product that took over three years to be delivered. Even when they could finally push the download button on the touchscreen of their Model S, for example, many owners found themselves waiting in a queue. The frustration didn't end there. Some were denied access because Tesla's internal data indicated they weren't safe enough drivers.
Meanwhile, federal and state safety regulators, already nervous about the Level 2-rated driver-assist system, continue to monitor things very closely. But CEO Elon Musk continues to push ahead. Via Electrek, Musk told attendees at last week's shareholder's meeting he's thinking about licensing the FSD software to rival automakers.
"I think Tesla's open to licensing autonomy because I think autonomy will be such a significant lifesaver and preventer of injuries that it is not a technology we want to keep to ourselves. So, I think it will be morally right to license it to other manufacturers if they would like to use it."
But here's the thing: FSD has not been fully proven to be safe, hence the concern from the folks at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And let's not forget the agency's ongoing Autopilot investigation. Before Tesla should even consider the possibility of licensing the technology, it must guarantee it's safe in full coordination with regulators.
And, of course, Tesla customers need to get full access to what they've already paid for. If their driving isn't deemed safe to use it, then full refunds should be provided. Musk further admitted the safety score calculator is "obviously imperfect. That's why we try to emphasize very much that it is beta, if not alpha in safety score calculation. So, it's going to get a lot of changes - yes, expect it to improve in its accuracy substantially over time. This is really just - it's a very early stage algorithm."
That may be true, but Tesla should really focus on its paying customers first before considering new business opportunities.