Tesla: “Full self-driving beta” isn’t designed for full self-driving - Ars Technica

The transparency site PlainSite recently published a pair of letters Tesla wrote to the California Department of Motor Vehicles in late 2020. The letters cast doubt on Elon Musk’s optimistic timeline for the development of fully driverless technology.

For years, Elon Musk has been predicting that fully driverless technology is right around the corner. At an April 2019 event, Musk predicted that Teslas would be capable of fully driverless operation—known in industry jargon as “level 5″—by the end of 2020.

Tesla told state regulators that the software is “not capable of recognizing or responding” to “static objects and road debris, emergency vehicles, construction zones, large uncontrolled intersections with multiple incoming ways, occlusions, adverse weather, complicated or adversarial vehicles in the driving path, and unmapped roads.”

In a December follow-up, Tesla added that “we expect the functionality to remain largely unchanged in a future, full release to the customer fleet.” Tesla added that “we do not expect significant enhancements” that would “shift the responsibility for the entire dynamic driving task to the system.” The system “will continue to be an SAE Level 2, advanced driver-assistance feature.”

SAE level 2 is industry jargon for a driver-assistance systems that perform functions like lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control. By definition, level 2 systems require continual human oversight. Fully driverless systems—like the taxi service Waymo is operating in the Phoenix area—are considered level 4 systems.