News - Tesla
Buggy software won’t slow Tesla juggernaut
Hertz deal drives Tesla share value to over $1 trillion despite new self-driving glitch
26 Oct 2021
By MATT BROGAN
TESLA has pulled the plug on its new Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software following customer complaints of false collision warnings and unnecessary brake applications in the over-air update issued late last week.
The news comes at the same time as the California-based company announced an historic 100,000 vehicle deal with car rental company Hertz, the US$4.2 billion agreement driving Tesla’s share valuation to US$1.027 trillion (AUD$1.366 trillion).
In the face of mounting criticism levelled at its self-driving technology – and an ongoing investigation by US transportation regulatory body the National Highway Safety Traffic System Administration (NHSTA) – Tesla stocks remain buoyant this week, closing 13 per cent higher on Monday at US$1024.86 (AUD$1363.06).
The stock spike occurred just days after Tesla withdrew the deployment of it latest FSD beta software in response to customer concerns, some saying the update had caused their vehicle to lose FSD ability altogether.
Using his preferred communication channel, Twitter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company made the decision to “rollback” the update while it figures out issues with the system, adding that the rollout caused a “log of problems” with many FSD beta testers.
“Seeing some issues with 10.3, so rolling back to 10.2 temporarily,” Mr Musk said in a tweet.
“Please note, this is to be expected with beta software. It is impossible to test all hardware configs in all conditions with internal quality assurance, hence the public beta.”
The 10.3 update of Tesla’s FSD software included profiles that allowed drivers to control vehicle behaviours during rolling stops, when exiting passing lanes, during speed-based lane changes, when following another vehicle and when a yellow traffic light was observed.
It also added the capability to drive along oncoming lanes to manoeuvre around an obstacle.
Tesla said the most recent update would also increase the ‘creeping’ speed of its vehicles and provide improved crossing object estimation by up to 20 per cent.
The system was also claimed to have improved vehicle semantic detections (such as brake lights, indicators and hazard lights), improved static object detection and allowed greater acceleration when merging from on-ramps onto major roads and when changing from slow to fast lanes.
Intriguingly, the latest FSD update was also intended to reduce what Tesla calls “false slowdowns” and was also meant to improve the way in which a vehicle made a left-hand turn at traffic lights by allowing the vehicle to cross over lane markings “more naturally” when safe to do so.
While Tesla is understood to have already fixed the bugs, sending a 10.3.1 update to its beta testers overnight, the issues surround the electric vehicle manufacturer’s high profile autonomous driving accidents is ongoing.
NHTSA continues to look into more than 30 Tesla crashes where Autopilot and/or Traffic Aware Cruise Control are implicated, its latest investigation estimated to encompass around 765,000 Tesla 3, S, X and Y models produced between 2014 and 2021.
The incidents under scrutiny were all confirmed to “have been engaged in either Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control during the approach to the crashes”, the NHTSA report said, promoting action from the Biden administration’s newly appointed senior advisor to the NHTSA, Missy Cummings.
Ms Cummings said recently that without federal standards, car-makers “are free to do as they please” in developing self-driving software and that steps must be taken to impose stricter safeguards around new-age driver assistance technologies.
“I want to do everything I can to support Tesla’s business model … however I can no longer be quiet – not that I ever was – about the problems with Autopilot and ‘full self-driving’,” Ms Cummings said.
“Hands-free connotes mind-free (and) this isn’t just a Tesla problem. This problem is going to be increasingly in our faces as we start to see more, quote, ‘hands-free driving’ from other cars.”
The announcement immediately drew the ire of Tesla’s proponents, who circulated an online petition to oust Ms Cummings from her position.
So-called ‘Teslarati’ say Ms Cummings’ position on the board of rival driver-assistance company Veoneer was a “clear conflict of interest” and that her conduct was “extremely biased”.
Veoneer said yesterday that Ms Cummings would step down from its board effective November 1.
As of this afternoon, the online petition had received more than 21,000 signatures.
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