It appears that Tesla’s Early Access Program will be automatically extended to buyers who purchased Full Self-Driving (FSD) prior to the end of February 2019, at least according to an email from the all-electric car maker to a Model 3 owner shared via Twitter.
Early purchase of FSD had previously been understood as a qualifier for the Early Access Program, but confusion over access to the program has been widespread thanks to seemingly sporadic rollouts of beta features combined with very little communication from Tesla. A March 1, 2019 announcement posted by Tesla previously confirmed this arrangement; however, that post has since been removed from Tesla’s official news/blog page.
It read as follows:“Customers who previously purchased Full Self-Driving will receive an invitation to Tesla’s Early Access Program (EAP). EAP members are invited to experience and provide feedback on new features and functionality before they are rolled out to other customers.”A Tesla owner and enthusiast well known in the community under the handle Earl of Frunkpuppy (@28delayslater/Twitter) recently received an email from Tesla which appears to clarify the matter:
“In regards to the Early Access program, we are super excited to offer the Early Access Program to our customers who had purchased FSD prior to the end of February! At this time, we are currently working on the process and timeline for this exciting feature. Once we have the appropriate information, we will communicate to our customer base! Invitations will be sent out automatically to all qualifying owners. The good news is that there are no extra steps needed on your part to receive the invitation. Thank you again for your email.”
Tesla’s Early Access Program provides beta software features for testing by an exclusive pool of owners. Invitations to join the program have been received and accepted by many in the owner community, but details are sparse on how the program is carried out. Given the secrecy mandated by Tesla for its Early Access users, this is not surprising.
What’s known generally about the program, as shared online by a few owners actively involved, is that participants receive an email prior to a beta release requiring acceptance of the software before being the update is sent over the air. At that time, the owner is also reminded of the Early Access Program’s strict rules for participation: No sharing information online and no 3rd party software reporting apps (TeslaFi, notably). Whether or not invitees are even supposed to acknowledge receiving an invite is even debated, with references being made to the first rule of “Fight Club”.
One additional thing worth noting about Tesla’s Early Access Program is that it’s not a priority system, meaning enrollment isn’t tied to receiving mass software updates before other non-participants. The program is strictly for software testing, and some features included in beta releases may never be released in the final system-wide update. The role of the participant is to provide helpful feedback to Tesla so that improvements can be made, not simply to be first in line for new features, although that is a huge benefit to weigh with the risks of using imperfect software that controls your vehicle. As the all-electric car maker moves closer towards launching its Full Self-Driving program, feedback from participants of the Early Access Program will become more essential.
Tesla has begun rolling out the final FSD computer (Hardware 3/HW3) in new production vehicles, and CEO Elon Musk recently confirmed that the company’s mobile service teams would be able to install the upgrade instead of the company’s service centers. Musk detailed the performance difference between HW2.5 and HW3 via Twitter: “The Tesla Full Self-Driving Computer now in production is at about 5% compute load for these [Navigate on Autopilot] tasks or 10% with full fail-over redundancy,” he wrote, later mentioning that the HW2.5 load was 80% with the system’s current features.
The company will be hosting an Autonomy Investor Day on April 22nd where the roadmap for Tesla’s Full Self-Driving features will be discussed and key updates will be provided. Investors will also be given test rides demonstrating FSD and Autopilot improvements, including never-before-seen features. The event will be webcast, though additional details are yet to be announced.