Tesla FSD beta’s Las Vegas inner-city test suggests that autonomy is closer than we think

(Credit: WHAT'S INSIDE? FAMILY/YouTube)

It’s pretty easy to dismiss the capabilities of Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving beta. A look at Autopilot’s ranking from Consumer Reports alone would suggest that Tesla’s driver-assist system is pretty average at best, and that solutions like GM’s Super Cruise are far more advanced and capable. 

With this in mind, the narrative surrounding Tesla’s self-driving efforts largely suggests that the company’s driver-assist systems, while advanced, are years away from being a capable autonomous driving solution. And when Tesla achieves autonomy, actual FSD companies like Waymo and Cruise would be far ahead. 

These preconceptions about Autopilot and the Full Self-Driving suite, however, are a bit questionable, especially if one were to consider the capabilities of the FSD beta today, which is currently being tested by a select group of Tesla owners. Tesla owner and YouTube host Dan Markham of the What’s Inside? Family channel recently experienced this, when he took a drive on a Model S equipped with the FSD beta. 

The Model S, which is owned by Tesla and SpaceX enthusiast Eli Burton, was put through several real-world driving scenarios, from inner-city left and right turns to full parking lots. And over the course of the test, Markham proved very impressed, particularly as he is a Tesla owner himself who is familiar with Autopilot’s capabilities and behaviors. During the “first drive” demonstration, Markham admitted that he was mind-blown at the self-driving capabilities exhibited by Burton’s Model S. 

This became quite notable when the pair took the FSD beta-equipped Tesla through the Las Vegas Boulevard. Tesla’s Full Self-Driving beta performed very well during the test, changing lanes, adjusting its speed, and making all the necessary maneuvers to take the pair to their destination, a Supercharger station. By the end of the video, both Tesla owners came away impressed, and though it may take some time before the FSD beta sees a wider release, it is evident that the company’s self-driving technology is there, and it’s just getting refined at this point. 

This is something that may be lost on those who are not intimately familiar with Tesla’s technology and vehicles. Based on the capabilities of the FSD beta now, together with the fact that improvements are being rolled out to the system at an extremely rapid pace, there seems to be a good chance that Tesla’s autonomous driving endgame would emerge faster than expected. Tesla critics and organizations such as Consumer Reports may deem Autopilot inferior to systems like GM’s Super Cruise for now, after all, but in the coming year or so, such conclusions would likely be more difficult to justify. 

Watch FSD beta handle inner-city driving and the Las Vegas Boulevard in the video below. 

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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