Below, I will look at what Tesla Full Self Driving (FSD) is currently very good at, what it’s bad at, what it’s very bad at, where I have to intervene even though I don’t have to, and the future of FSD. I have several updates throughout the piece, but let’s start with a few “news” items.
- Tesla just reduced the price of FSD from $15,000 to $12,000 — or you can rent it for $199/month. Is it worth it? At $199, you could rent it for 5 years before you reach $12,000, and you can cancel any time. When I purchased it in 2019, it was $6000. Even though it doesn’t work in every situation, it works enough of the time that it’s worth it to me. For $12,000, I don’t know — you could try it for a few months to see if it’s worth it to you.
- I just lost access to FSD. I was on a 150-mile trip to Bayfield, Wisconsin, and my brother who owns a Tesla Model S was playing with the GUI on my computer screen the whole time. I broke my rule: If you can’t concentrate on the road 100% of the time, you have to turn it off. I didn’t! If you have 5 forced disengagements, you lose access for 5 days. I managed to go 3 months before I got my 5th. It’s been gone only a few days and I miss it already! I can no longer enter an address and have it drive me to my destination. It will no longer steer automatically on my 1.3-mile-long street and on other roads with no painted lines. It will no longer steer the turn marked 15 mph on my drive into Three Lakes, Wisconsin. I will be very glad to get it back in 3 more days.
- You can transfer FSD from your current car to your new Tesla until the end of this month (September). One of the biggest complaints about paying big money (up to $15,000) for FSD was that you couldn’t transfer it to a new vehicle. Well, here’s your chance. If you order a new Tesla before the end of September, you can transfer your FSD subscription to the new vehicle.
I’ve been driving with Tesla’s FSD Beta V11.4.4 here in Northern Wisconsin 99% of time for the last 7 weeks. The only time I don’t use it is when I have to intervene for a few moments. A biggie: FSD Beta V11.4.4 is very powerful and it works perfectly in many situations.
When FSD Beta V11.4.4 is Very, Very, Good
1. FSD Beta V11.4.4 steers perfectly not only on superhighways and roads with painted lines, but also on city streets and country roads with no painted lines. It not only keeps you in your lane flawlessly on straight roads and through moderate turns, but also slows down automatically and makes sharp turns that are marked 15 mph. I do a lot of driving on country roads here. To get FSD to work at full capacity, you need to enter an address into the navigation system. I pick something from Favorites or Recents or I enter a business or even the numbers and letters of the address verbally. It is a joy to then leave the driving to FSD Beta V11.4.4, often with no interventions or just adding a little throttle a few times when it’s too slow or I’m afraid to let it find the gap in busy cross traffic.
Tesla’s standard Autosteer and Lane Assist can make quite sharp turns — better than the driver-assist features on my 2018 Nissan Leaf. Furthermore, they work not only when you are all by yourself on narrow roads, but the car also moves over just the right amount when you encounter oncoming traffic. Additionally, it moves to the left just the right amount to go around pedestrians, bicycles, parked cars, and trailers protruding into your lane. It also responds properly to construction barrels that are moving you over when there is a lane closed. This is new behavior!
2. FSD Beta V11.4.4 almost always stops in the right place at stop signs, checks for cross traffic (slightly too long), makes the turn if needed, and then accelerates briskly. Earlier versions of FSD Beta would more often stop 20 or 30 feet too early.
3. FSD Beta V11.4.4 goes through green traffic lights. Earlier versions before the Beta release would require you to approve going through green traffic lights.
4. Generally, FSD Beta speed control is very smooth. It is usually smoother than a human driver (especially my wife).
When State Highway 32 joins US Highway 45 in Three Lakes, Wisconsin, FSD Beta fails to turn into the main traffic lane. It turns into the bypass lane on the right and then makes a slightly jerky merge into the main traffic lane when the bypass lane ends.
In some locations including a place on US 17 between Three Lakes and Rhinelander, FSD puts me in the bypass lane even when no car is making a left turn. It only returns to the main lane when the bypass lane ends.
When my navigation route makes a left turn from State Highway 32 south of Three Lakes onto my street, Bonkowski Road, FSD Beta V11.4.4 makes me stop for an instant rather than proceeding directly onto Bonkowski Road. A driver following closely behind me would not expect this behavior.
When driving on Bonkowski Road in Three Lakes, Wisconsin, FSD Beta sees the stop sign on Paradise Road merging at a small angle and brakes lightly when no braking is needed.
When driving down Bonkowski Road, FSD Beta will activate the turn signal two or three times when there is no turn onto another road.
Usually, FSD Beta makes smooth turns, but in some cases when turning from a highway onto a street, it will cause your car’s steering wheel to jerk quite strongly.
When FSD Beta V11.4.4 is Horrid
Sometimes, FSD Beta 4. 4 will do what I call Phantom Swerving. On a blacktop road with no painted lines, FSD Beta V11.4.4 will usually make my car swerve sharply as though it is trying to avoid a pothole, big chunk of tire, or cinderblock in the middle of the lane. The only problem: there is nothing in my lane that would warrant this behavior.
A few times, I’ve seen this behavior repeated after only a few hundred yards. Other times, I can go weeks without having this happen. When it happens, it is very disconcerting to me and it drives my passengers crazy. If it occurs too frequently, I have no choice but to disable FSD Beta V11.4.4.
Phantom Braking: Same as above but just applying the brakes when there is no reason.
Sometimes, FSD Beta 4.4 will put me into a turn lane when the navigation route specifies that I am to go straight ahead. Sometimes, FSD Beta V11.4.4 will actually make a turn that is not specified by the navigation. It happens at a traffic light on 1600 N going up the hill from I-15 in Orem, Utah. It also happens on US 17 going south just north of Rhinelander, Wisconsin. This behavior occurs repeatedly in the same location. Unless I disengage ahead of time, it will drive my passengers crazy.
When I Have to Intervene
When I am waiting at a stop sign with no cross traffic or only a single car coming on the cross street, I can let FSD Beta V11.4.4 wait for the car and then proceed straight ahead or make the turn specified by the navigation. However, if there is heavy cross traffic, I don’t trust FSD Beta V11.4.4, so I disable it and proceed straight ahead or make the turn manually when I see a gap in the traffic.
Reporting FSD Beta V11.4.4 Misbehavior to Tesla
If you grab the wheel or hit the brake to disengage from FSD Beta V11.4.4, a text message appears on the screen which asks: Why did you disengage? It then gives you the opportunity to push the talk button and send a short voice message to Tesla explaining the misbehavior if there was any. It took me quite a while to start sending these messages, but now I do it every time I experience FSD Beta V11.4.4 misbehavior. I have no way of knowing if Tesla actually listens to my messages. It certainly doesn’t respond immediately in any way that I can see. I can only hope that my reports will help cause the misbehavior to be eliminated in a future software release.
What to Expect in the Future
We keep hearing promises from Elon Musk about how good the next software versions, especially FSD V12, will be. In fact, he promises that it will no longer be designated as a Beta technology. Tesla plans to release a complete rewrite of the software using AI (Artificial Intelligence) principles. Those of us who have experienced over 10 versions of the software and seen a number of serious issues persist will be waiting with baited breath.
I would love to hear about your experience with FSD Beta 11.4.4 in the comments section. Let us know what you experience that is similar or different.
Tesla has reactivated its referral program. If you find any of my articles helpful to you, please use my referral link: https://ts.la/arthur73734 (be sure to use it when you make your order). If you are buying a new Tesla and use my link, you’ll receive $1000 off of your purchase price for a Model S and X, or you will get $500 off for a Model 3 and Y. You will also get 3 months of Full Self-Driving. It will drive you automatically to any address you enter into the Tesla navigation. (Just be prepared to intervene immediately if it screws up.)
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