For 6 months my wife and I have been using various FSD Beta V10 versions. Recently, we’ve been hearing about Tesla working on a big upgrade to V11. This upgrade would incorporate big improvements, including putting the local driving stack together with the long-distance driving stack into a unified whole. We heard reports of people downloading it for weeks. Finally, we got our upgrade, so here’s my report on what I have observed so far.
In a nutshell: The upgrade does show noticeable improvements in smoothness and earlier lane changes. However, I’m still seeing some of the most nagging failures (e.g., phantom braking and wrong lane selection at stop lights). Behavior at rotaries/roundabouts is now often perfect, but at other times, my car stopped dead in the middle of the rotary. On another occasion, my car also stopped dead in the middle of an intersection. Bottom line: You still need to be ready for instant intervention in any complex or heavy traffic situation.
Just so you know: My wife and I have now driven our Tesla Model 3 for 3.5 years including coast to coast driving and our odometer reads 94,592 miles. We still love it!
On October 21, 2021 my wife and I first got access to FSD Beta. We have used and observed FSD Beta through 9 versions of the software V10.5, V10.8, V10.10, V10.11.2.1, V10.12.2, V10.69.2.4. and now the “big” update to V11.3.6 At first, we used FSD Beta all the time, but it has little additional utility over “Autosteer Beta” on longer trips and there is more likelihood that you will make a mistake and have the software taken from you. Just now I made the mistake of leaving it active on a longer trip. There were a couple of dogs riding in a pickup truck bed that went by us on the freeway. I sped up to show the dogs to my grandchildren and exceeded the 85 mph FSD Beta speed limit. Before I knew it, I had used up two of the five allotted forced disengagements. Why two? I have no idea. The one consolation is the promise that if I exceed my limit of 5, I will only lose access for two weeks instead of the formerly unspecified period. Bottom line: Only use FSD Beta on short trips on city streets where it will make all the turns for you and you can concentrate on not breaking any rules.
When I am driving normally without any automatic assist, it’s like I’m on my own Autopilot. Most of the time I don’t actively think about it, but I instinctively do the right thing. Even in heavy traffic, I am quite relaxed. With any Tesla, the Autosteer function is a huge stress reducer on long trips. However, ironically, when using FSD Beta for auto navigation on city streets, it is stressful! I am always watching for it to screw up or be too timid. I must always be ready to intervene immediately.
I paid $6,000 extra for Full Self Driving when I bought my Tesla Model 3 in October 2019. The cost to add Full Self Driving to your Tesla or with new Tesla purchases is now $15,000. You can also rent the software for $99/month if you have purchased Enhanced Autopilot or $199/month if not. I understand that my wife and I are now among the 500,0000 customers that have access to FSD Beta.
Elon Musk has promised that all Tesla drivers who purchased their cars after 2016 when the full complement of cameras were installed would eventually be able to rent their cars out as robotaxis. What are the chances of this happening??? Not likely! For a starter, having lived through 10 versions of the software, we have seen incremental improvements but always serious flaws and even some backsliding that make it feel that we are no closer to true level 5 automation than we were with the first version we tested. Also, Teslas manufactured after spring of 2019 (like mine) got the Hardware 2 upgrade, which has much greater computing power than the previous version. It is only with difficulty that owners of the previous versions have been able to get this upgrade. Now we are learning that Teslas manufactured after summer of 2023 will get upgraded cameras and an even more powerful computer. The millions of owners of the previous versions, like me, will not be able to get these upgrades.
In my opinion, the first version of FSD Beta V10.5 that I tested was a huge increase in functionality. You could enter a location into the navigation and the car would automatically drive you there. In the 10 versions since, there have been significant improvements, but there have been also nagging faults and backsliding. With FSD Beta V11.3.6, I still have to be ready to intervene instantaneously and it is unusable when trying to merge onto a busy street at a stop sign, especially with a car following close behind you. Also, you really have to turn it off in heavy traffic and complex situations. Note: There may be some improvement in this area with V11.3.6, but I haven’t had a chance to test it thoroughly.
I have a choice of 4 levels of automation: 1) Traffic-Aware Cruise Control 2) Autosteer with no navigation 3) Cruise and Auto-Navigation on limited access highways and 4) Full Self-Driving (Beta) with auto navigation on city streets. Note: In Figure 2, you see the automation selector. With just Autosteer selected, you get thin blue lines on each side of your lane. With auto navigation on limited access highways (Beta), you get a blue line in the middle of your lane. With Full Self-Driving (Beta) V11.3.6 selected, you get a heavy wide line in the middle of your lane as shown in Figure 1. Bottom line: you can tell what level of automation you have selected by observing which of the three different kinds of lines you see in your lane.
Recent Observations Using FSD Beta V11.3.6
Recent Significant Improvements
Rotary/Roundabout, Big Improvement Sometimes: With standard Automatic Steering Assist, your car can’t make the sharp turns in the rotary and fails midway through. Up until FSD Beta V10.20.2.4, my car would stop dead before entering the rotary but then negotiate the rotary properly. With the latest software update, my car will treat the rotary properly like a yield sign if no cars are approaching you and continue to navigate correctly through the rotary. I experimented with rotaries several times with V11.3.6. The behavior was correct most of the time. However, sometimes my car just came to a dead stop in the middle of the rotary. Note: There was also one occasion where my car came to a dead stop in the middle of a regular intersection.
Earlier Lane Changes: In previous versions, my car would often wait until the last possible moment to make the lane change necessary to make a turn. Frequently that would be too late and it would miss making the turn. With FSD Beta V11.3.6, my car turns into the proper lane and makes a very smooth turn into the turn lane much earlier.
Doesn’t run stop sign anymore: Until a recent version of the software, my car would run the stop sign where 1650 North makes a T onto Snow Canyon Parkway in Saint George, Utah. My car will now correctly stop at the stop sign before proceeding.
Now stops correctly at stop signs: In previous versions, my car would stop up to 25 feet before some stop signs before creeping slowly forward. With FSD Beta V11.3.6, my car will now stop correctly at all stop signs.
Smoother, more accurate behavior in big store parking lots: Previously, in big store parking lots, my steering wheel would shake nervously and more often than not come to a dead end rather than the parking lot exit. With V11.3.6, the steering wheel behavior is much smoother and navigation going into and exiting parking lots is more reliable.
Big brother is watching: With FSD Beta (and recently also for smart cruise and automatic steering assist), the camera above the rearview mirror is looking at your face. The system can tell if you are looking at the screen to your right, looking down at your phone or at something you are eating, and maybe even if your eyes are shut. If you persist doing any of these things, you get an audible and visual warning. If you persist even longer, you will get a forced disengagement.
5 strikes and you’re out! You have a budget of 5 forced disengagements before your FSD Beta privileges are revoked. You get a forced disengagement when you fail to put the right amount of torque on the steering wheel long enough, fail to look at the road often enough, or go above 85 mph with FSD engaged. We lost our FSD privileges twice because my wife and I had 5 forced disengagements some months ago, but access was restored several weeks later each time. My wife and I drove for a couple months without infractions with V10.69.4 because we used it only for local trips. As I described previously, we got two forced disengagements on our first trip with V11.3.6 by exceeding 85 mph with FSD Beta engaged. So, we now have a budget of only 3 forced disengagements before we lose it again. Supposedly, this time we will lose it for only 2 weeks. Note: you need turn off FSD Beta if you want to exceed 85 mph.
What I love most about FSD Beta: FSD Beta won’t drive your car into your garage or back it out. However, if you back your car out of the garage onto the street, it is really fun to put it into drive, wait for the steering wheel ikon to appear, pull the right stock down twice and have the car drive you away perfectly (sometimes without intervention), both on city streets and with mixed city and highway driving, to any location that you put into the NAV.
Most Serious Remaining Issues
Wrong lane selection and failure to follow navigation route. I have observed numerous times with earlier versions when FSD Beta will make a lane selection that is inconsistent with the navigation route. Worse: sometimes my car will also deviate from the navigation route that I have chosen. This is quite unnerving. You now see the solid wide blue line (See Figure 1) indicating the route the navigation is directing your car to take. I would like to hear from others whether this behavior has improved with V11.3.6.
Phantom braking still not addressed: My car will still do phantom braking fairly frequently. This means that you will get moderate braking for no apparent reason. I keep my foot lightly resting on the accelerator so that I can block this if needed. It is annoying, but the braking is very rarely extreme, and I only need to block it if someone is following me closely.
In the comments section, please give me your own observations, particularly about phantom braking, unprotected left turns, and other new behavior, complaints, etc. with V11.3.6. I haven’t had it long enough to evaluate all behavior.
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