Tesla makes full self-driving beta software available to everyone in North America

The Tesla Model 3 was expected to be one of the most sought-after cars this year  (PA Archive)
The Tesla Model 3 was expected to be one of the most sought-after cars this year (PA Archive)

Tesla is making its full self-driving (FSD) beta software available “to anyone in North America who requests it,” CEO Elon Musk has tweeted.

FSD is the most high-tech option of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance features. It offers additional functionality over the Autopilot system that comes as standard in its EVs, including in the UK, and the premium Enhanced Autopilot programme. Those who have purchased FSD in the US and Canada can install the latest update over Wi-Fi using the tablet-like touchscreen in their car.

The upgraded software allows Teslas to automatically steer on motorways and city streets and identify and slow down for stop signs and traffic lights. There are also Autopilot features such as cruise control and auto steer within a lane, and Enhanced Autopilot perks including automatic lane change, auto parking and smart vehicle summoning.

All of this comes at a price, however. The Enhanced Autopilot package costs £3,400 and the Full Self-Driving package is £6,800, according to Carbuyer. The full self-driving label is not entirely accurate, either, as a driver must be behind the wheel at all times when the advanced driver assist features are enabled.

Self-driving cars are not currently allowed on UK roads, but the Government has said that these vehicles could be permitted by 2025. Some cars, lorries and coaches with self-driving features could arrive on motorways as soon as next year, the Department for Transport has said.

In order to use FSD, owners in North America were normally required to obtain a high driver-safety score, which is determined by Tesla software that observes their driving habits. This rating must be maintained for drivers to retain FSD beta access. No safety certification or professional training is required. But, owners are now reporting that the requirements for 100 Autopilot miles and a safety score of at least 80 have been dropped for the latest update.

Mr Musk tweeted in September that the FSD beta was extending to 160,00 Tesla customers in the US and Canada. However, only those who met the saftety threshold could actually use the software -- this number was previously estimated to be 2,000 last year, including Tesla employees and the company’s most passionate fans, with Musk tweeting that an additional 1,000 had been granted the beta last October.

In the US, Tesla’s self-driving capabilities have come under scrutiny from regulators after a series of crashes, some of which were fatal. In October, it was reported that Tesla was facing a criminal investigation in the US over claims that its vehicles could drive themselves.

The company has also suffered a couple of setbacks of late as it was forced to recall 1.1 million cars in September over a safety issue, and 300,00 vehicles earlier this month due to an issue with their rear lights.