“Two Weaks” of Elon time are at last over with the limited release of the FSD Beta V9 during this past weekend. This major beta version of the Tesla Full Self-Driving software was getting delayed since CEO Elon Musk announced it was almost ready back in April.
However, as he had said at the time, “step-change improvement is massive,” holds true after looking at the results the beta testers are getting out of the early evaluations of FSD Beta V9 (videos below).
Tesla currently has two types of testers for the FSD Beta 9, employees recruited for the very purpose and Tesla owners that the automaker has identified as “safe & careful drivers”. These owners are enrolled in the Tesla Early Access Program. A good chunk of these non-employee testers possess a significant presence on social media followed by other Tesla owners and enthusiasts.
FSD Beta V9 Release Notes
The Tesla firmware update version number 2021.4.18.12 is the current branch associated with the FSD Beta V9 software release. This is not a public release so the release notes were shared by a beta tester James Locke on Twitter.
Full Self-Driving (Beta)
Full Self-Driving is an early limited access Beta and must be used with additional caution. It may do the wrong thing at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road. Do not become complacent. When Full Self-Driving is enabled, your vehicle will make lane changes off-highway, select forks to follow your navigation on route, navigate around other vehicles and objects, and make left and right turns. Use Full Self-Driving in limited Beta only if you will pay constant attention to the road, and be prepared to act immediately, especially around blind corners, crossing intersections, and in narrow driving situations.FSD Beta V9 Release Notes (2021.4.18.12)
Driving Visualization Improvements
The driving visualization has been improved to better support Full Self-Driving capabilities. When Full Self-Driving is engaged and apps are not displayed, the driving visualization will expand to show additional surrounding information. To disable the Expanded Full Self-Driving Visualization, tap Controls > Autopilot. With the larger visualization, select items have slightly moved but will continue to look and behave the same.FSD Beta V9 Release Notes (2021.4.18.12)
The cabin camera above your rearview mirror can now determine driver inattentiveness and provide you with audible alerts, to remind you to keep your eyes on the road when Autopilot is engaged. Camera images do not leave the vehicle itself, which means the system cannot save or transmit information unless you enable data sharing. To change your data settings, tap Controls > Safety & Security > Data Sharing on your car’s touchscreen.FSD Beta V9 Release Notes (2021.4.18.12)
An interesting debate broke in the Tesla Community when the Silicon Valley-based automaker introduced the cabin camera in Tesla Model 3 back in 2017. Later on, it became obvious that this camera was there for driver attentiveness monitoring especially for the future autonomous Tesla Robotaxis.
Until now the cabin camera was inactive. But now it’s clear that this camera will monitor the FSD Beta testers from V9 onwards.
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FSD Beta V9 Test Videos
As I mentioned earlier, several of the non-employee FSD Beta testers are social media influencers and YouTubers from the United States, so we get tons of testing videos as soon as Tesla releases a new FSD Beta version, in this case, V9.
V9 is also a huge step for Tesla Full Self-Driving as the Autopilot and AI teams at the company have decided to pursue further development on a pure vision-based approach.
Tesla never used a lidar on production vehicles and now the forward-facing radar is also eliminated from FSD decision making, training the neural net purely on video feeds. Tesla AI director Andrej Karpathy explained in detail why Tesla took this new approach in a video talk lately.
Creeping for a Blind Left
Lombard Street Challenge
The next video is particularly interesting as one FSD Beta V9 tester puts Tesla’s latest self-driving software to its ultimate test on the crooked Lombard Street in San Francisco. If Tesla Autopilot masters the hairpin turns on Lombard Street, it would be fun to drive there in a Tesla vehicle without making any effort in the future.