Tesla's Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software is being "revisited" by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The disclosure comes after the company's willingness to allow its customers to test its Level 2 driving feature in public has sparked alarm among safety advocates and regulators.
Despite the fact that FSD handles some driving tasks, Tesla says it does not make vehicles entirely autonomous. According to the company, the functions "require a fully attentive driver."
The state's DMV supervises the country's largest autonomous vehicle testing program, with over 60 businesses authorized to run test vehicles on public roads. Only a few companies have been granted permission to operate completely autonomous vehicles without the presence of safety drivers, and even fewer have been granted permission to deploy vehicles for commercial purposes.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the California DMV told Tesla of the regulator's investigation last week.
"Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space prompted the reevaluation," the DMV said, according to the report.
FSD beta, which is meant to be able to drive in the city, stop automatically, and perform turns, has been hired by Elon Musk's automobile company for real-world testing.
Unlike other businesses testing autonomous vehicles in the state, Tesla is monitoring the system with its own customers rather than qualified safety drivers. The FSD option is now $12,000 for Tesla owners, up from $10,000 last month. Tesla has 32 vehicles registered with the DMV, yet in autonomous mode, it regularly records little or no kilometers driven.
California's DMV wrote in its letter that it is revisiting its "classification decision following recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology and open investigations" from US regulators.
The requirements will be stricter if the DMV decides to categorize Tesla's driver assistance technologies as an autonomous car.
Tesla, for example, would be required to notify the government of any problems it sees, as well as identify all drivers who use its new technologies.
According to video postings by beta users, Tesla vehicles equipped with the then-current 10.3 FSD software gave forward collision warnings even when there was no immediate risk in October of last year. Tesla, on the other hand, fixed the software within a day.
Depending on where the DMV lands, Tesla may be subject to a slew of new regulatory issues.