Man Puts Tesla’s FSD to the Test Going from SF to LA, with 600 km Being Fully Autonomous Self-Driving

published: 2021-02-05 9:30 | editor: | category: News

While Tesla has been touting the high performance of its FSD (full self-driving) system, which allows for fully autonomous driving without human input, this claim was recently put to the test by a driver who attempted to use FSD for a 600-kilometer trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Without further ado, let’s take a look at his endeavor.

Ever since early December 2020, YouTuber Whole Mars Catalog has been uploading clips of himself traveling with FSD on an almost daily basis. The cross-California trip marks the latest in a string of ever-expanding challenges for Tesla’s FSD by the company’s mega fan, who undertook the trip with the goal of using FSD the whole way with no input from himself.

Spoiler alert: it was a fail.

Fortunately enough, the trip did not end with him in a bloody pulp between two cargo containers in the middle of the highway (after all, trailer trucks are few and far between on the road these days). He failed because an incident occurred during the trip which required physical input from him, meaning the criterion of “no human input” could not be met.

For the entirety of the trip, he placed his left hand on the steering wheel, to ensure FSD is fully engaged. According the video, he was relatively focused on road conditions.

It should probably be first pointed out that Tesla’s FSD autopilot function is restricted to highway-use only. FSD is available on all models sold in all countries. However, the version of FSD that was tested in the YouTube clip was a beta version. Unlike the FSD available in Taiwan, this beta version, which is available in the U.S. and Canada, also provides autopilot functionality on city streets, in addition to highways.

Needless to say, owners of Tesla models without such beta function should not engage FSD on city streets, as it’s wildly dangerous to do so.

In the clip, one can see that Tesla’s FSD beta is for the most part capable of accurately handling various traffic and road conditions – sometimes aggressively so. For instance, although FSD made the correct calls when going up a freeway ramp (at 8:24 in the video) and when other cars cut into the lane, these situations were enough to scare Whole Mars Catalog into putting both of his hands on the wheel.

▲ When stopping before a red light, FSD leaves space aplenty for pedestrians to cross the road.

At any rate, the abovementioned fail took place on the highway. At the time, there was a large concrete brick in the middle of the road, but Whole Mars Catalog did not see said brick until the car in front swerved out of the way. As he was unable to confirm whether FSD noticed the brick during the split second, he had to intervene and manually move the Tesla out of harm’s way as a safety measure (the video was itself sped up; this whole event requires viewing the video at 0.25x speed to be shown clearly).

▲ The aforementioned concrete brick, here seen to the front-right side of the car (Source: Whole Mars Catalog)

Incidentally, the Tesla in question had not been fully charged prior to Mr. Catalog’s “challenge”, with the battery expected to sit at a whopping 5% by the end of the trip. That’s why he made two stops at separate Superchargers along the way. Although the car was able to self-drive its way into the charging station, the actual charging process required manual input and therefore was not included in the video. At around 7:30 however, one can see the Tesla leaving the interchange towards a Supercharger, at which it stayed for about half an hour, during which its battery rose from 50% to 90%.

After leaving the Supercharger, Catalog embarked on the second, 290-km leg of his journey. When he arrived at the second Supercharger, he had about 17% battery left. The journey started at 9:30 am and ended at 5 pm. Apart from charging stops, the rest of the route basically consisted of nothing but straight roads. The entire trip totaled about 620 km, driven at an average of 80 km/h, inclusive of charging times. Given all this, it would appear that Catalog was making good time.

Although Catalog’s adventure sufficiently demonstrated the impressive might of Tesla’s FSD, it does come with the caveat that most of the trip consisted of highways, with very little time spent on city streets. This means that FSD’s performance in chaotic road conditions in urban areas and during rush hours remains to be seen. Furthermore, perhaps immobile obstacles on highways (such as concrete bricks) represent yet another unresolved issue.

 (Image: Whole Mars Catalog)

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