- the california dmv confirmed to the los angeles times that it is taking a look at how tesla talks about its "full self-driving" (fsd) technology.
- in the fine print, the automaker makes it clear that fsd is not actually fully self-driving.
- but ceo elon musk has said multiple times that self-driving teslas are just around the corner, with the latest missed deadline the end of 2020.
we've said it before, and we'll keep saying it for a while: there are no full self-driving cars available for sale today. there are test programs, sure, but completely autonomous vehicles remain a technology from the future. auto companies that try to promote their driver-assistance features as "full self driving" could run afoul of regulators. see also: tesla.
the california department of motor vehicles confirmed to the los angeles times this week that it is reviewing tesla's claims for its "full self-driving" option. although fsd isn't widely available today, it's been available for pre-purchase for a couple years now. it's currently priced at $10,000 and available on every tesla. the dmv did not provide any more details about the review, but the times notes that if the dmv finds tesla's communications to be misleading, then it could suspend or revoke the company's autonomous driving testing permits, and then, a dmv spokesperson told the times, "a vehicle operating on public roads using autonomous technology without first obtaining a permit can be removed from the public roadway by a police officer."
tesla's autopilot adaptive cruise control and lane-centering technology is standard on each of its model lines today, while fsd is a stand-alone option. the first major, and widely available, fsd release, which tesla calls "autosteer on city streets," is supposed to be released later this year. however, in the meantime, those who opt to pay for the future download now get a few extra features in the meantime, including automatic lane changes on the highway, automatically slowing for stop signs and traffic lights, summon, and auto park. the fine print does make it clear that autopilot "require[s] active driver supervision and [does] not make the vehicle autonomous," but that disclaimer can be found on the order page, not where tesla describes the technology on its model pages.
tesla's fsd hype has already landed the company in legal trouble. in july 2020, a german court ruled that the automaker misled consumers about its vehicles' automated driving abilities, and banned tesla from using the words "full potential for autonomous driving" and "autopilot inclusive" in its ads.
tesla ceo elon musk has made multiple bold statements about his vehicles' autonomous driving technology. last july, for example, he claimed fully autonomous technology would be ready by the end of 2020. "i'm extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen, and i think it will happen very quickly," he said at the time. "i think at tesla, i feel like we are very close to level 5 autonomy. i think i remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year." musk has not commented or tweeted about the california dmv situation.
according to documents obtained by plainsite, tesla privately told the california dmv late last year that fsd is not actually a fully autonomous technology. there have already been a number of crashes involving teslas where there were questions about whether the drivers thought the car was able to drive itself. there have also been cases where drivers specifically attempted to defeat the vehicle's modest safety features, which are supposed to only keep working with an attentive driver in the driver's seat.
currently, the dmv considers tesla autopilot to be a level 2 driver-assist technology, the times notes. there are many other level 2 driver-assistance technologies on the market, and the automakers selling these vehicles do not describe the technology as fully autonomous.