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New Tesla self-driving software could reduce driver interventions by one third

Tesla only released the first version of its Full Self-Driving software beta just over a week ago, but it is already being updated with new improvements. The company has been collecting data from the early users and has made improvements that CEO Elon Musk says could reduce driver interventions by as much as one third.

The new software, version 2020.40.8.12, began rolling out on Friday, as reported by Electrek. Those who already have access to the Full Self-Driving beta software will receive the update which should make the use of the system smoother, with fewer requirements for the driver to intervene.

When asked by a Tesla fan group how the company achieved a more smooth user experience in Full Self-Driving, Musk said that the company measures its improvements in terms of reduced driver interventions. “We measure this primarily in intervention probability,” Musk wrote. “This update addressed several issues, resulting in perhaps [approximately] one-third fewer interventions. Many of the improvements consist of fixing silly bugs vs grand eureka moments. True for most beta releases in my experience.”

We measure this primarily in intervention probability. This update addressed several issues, resulting in perhaps ~1/3 fewer interventions. Many of the improvements consist of fixing silly bugs vs grand eureka moments. True for most beta releases in my experience.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 31, 2020

The Full Self-Driving software is one more step on Tesla’s mission to create a fully autonomous vehicle. The new software can perform the same complex tasks that the Autopilot software could perform on the highways, but applied to city streets. This includes the ability to plan a route between two points and follow it, to make turns, to stop at traffic lights, and to avoid obstacles on the road such as other vehicles.

However, despite the name, the system is not fully self-driving. Drivers are required to be attentive and to keep their hands on the wheel while using the feature, in case they need to take over in case of an emergency. The beta software even comes with a warning that, “It may do the wrong thing at the worst time.”

Groups such as the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have expressed concern over the safety of such systems as they can be abused by drivers who do not pay attention and could cause crashes. There have been previous cases of drivers misusing Tesla’s automatic driving features by apparently falling asleep behind the wheel or using their phones while driving.

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Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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