Despite the head of the National Transportation Safety Board expressing serious concerns about its safety last week, Tesla has now enabled access to the beta of its “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) program to more Tesla drivers, via a “request” button on Teslas’ dashboard screens. However, before a driver gets access to the software, Tesla will determine their “safety score,” using five criteria that estimate “the likelihood that your driving could result in a future collision,” according to a page on Tesla’s website.
The score is tabulated using data collected by sensors on the driver’s Tesla, and considers instances of forward collision warnings per 1,000 miles, hard braking, aggressive turning, unsafe following, and forced Autopilot disengagement. A Tesla’s Autopilot feature disengages after giving three visual and audio warnings, “when your Tesla vehicle has determined that you have removed your hands from the steering wheel and have become inattentive,” according to the safety score guide.
The guide doesn’t indicate what Tesla considers an acceptable safety score to access FSD, but says most drivers will have a score of 80 out of a possible 100. The FSD beta software does not make a Tesla fully autonomous; the driver must keep control of the vehicle at all times.
Tesla is opening access to the FSD beta early a year after it opened a limited beta of the software with a select group of customers. It opened up a monthly subscription package for FSD in July, at a price of $199 per month, or $99 per month for Tesla owners who bought the since-discontinued Enhanced Autopilot package. Before that point, the FSD package was sold for a one-time fee of $10,000. Tesla owners can cancel their monthly FSD subscription at any time, according to the terms on Tesla’s website.
Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, said last week that Tesla should address “basic safety issues” before expanding FSD, calling the company’s use of the term full self-driving “misleading and irresponsible.” Homendy said Tesla “has clearly misled numerous people to misuse and abuse technology.” The NTSB can conduct investigations and make recommendations, but has no enforcement authority.
On Saturday, when a popular Tesla blog tweeted an editorial questioning whether the company had a “fair chance” after Homendy’s comments, Musk replied with a tweet that had a link to the editable version of Homendy’s Wikipedia page (which as of this writing has a paragraph titled “Tesla criticism” that links to news stories about her recent comments). Musk didn’t comment further on Twitter.
A request for comment to Tesla’s media email was not immediately returned Sunday morning; the company dissolved its press office and rarely replies to media queries. The NTSB also did not reply to a request for comment.