Tesla has reportedly started an incentivized beta tester program for ~100 more employees who are willing to test out the company’s Full Self-Driving suite. For their participation in the FSD beta tests, Tesla employees who would be part of the program would reportedly be receiving Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, as well as the Premium Upgrades Package (worth a total of $13,000) for their vehicles free of charge.
The program was reportedly outlined in an email to employees written by Elon Musk, and later obtained by Bloomberg. The email reportedly noted that the internal testing program would require Tesla employees who purchase one of the company’s electric cars to share 300 to 400 hours of real-world driving feedback to the Autopilot team by the end of next year. In his message, Elon Musk was reportedly optimistic that the ~100 slots for the Full Self-Driving beta tester program would likely be filled quickly.
“This is being offered on a first come, first served basis. Given the excitement around this, I expect it will probably be fully subscribed by noon or 1 p.m. tomorrow,” Musk wrote.
If Bloomberg‘s information about Elon Musk’s email proves accurate, it could signify what could very well be one of Tesla’s first (somewhat) public programs directly targeted at developing Full Self-Driving technology. Tesla, after all, has been offering its Full Self-Driving suite as an upgrade for its vehicles, but the system’s features are still in the process of being developed. Back in August, Elon Musk noted that Tesla would start introducing the first features of its FSD suite when Software Version 9 is rolled out. The V9 update started rolling out this week.
Elon Musk envisions Tesla’s fleet of electric cars to be capable of Full Self-Driving in the future. To make this vision even more feasible, Tesla elaborated in its Q2 2018 earnings call that it is currently in the process of developing its own custom chip, which is being created by a team led by Pete Bannon, who used to work at Apple. During his time in Apple, Bannon helped create the tech giant’s first ARM 32-bit processor that went into the iPhone 5, as well as the first ARM 64-bit processor in the world which went into the iPhone 5S. Musk, for his part, is optimistic about the capabilities and performance of Tesla’s custom hardware.
“It’s an incredible job by Pete and his team to create this, the world’s most advanced computer designed specifically for autonomous operation. And as a rough sort, whereas the current NVIDIA’s hardware can do 200 frames a second, this is able to do over 2,000 frames a second and with full redundancy and fail-over. So, it’s an amazing design and we’re going to be looking to increase the size of our chip team and our investment in that as quickly as possible.”
“It costs the same as our current hardware and we anticipate that this would have to be replaced, this replacement, which is why we made it easy to switch out the computer, and that’s all that needs to be done. If we take out one computer and plug in the next. That’s it. All the connectors are compatible and you get an order of magnitude, more processing and you can run all the cameras at primary full resolution with the complex neural net.”
Telsa is currently in the process of releasing Software Version 9, which is filled to the brim with new features, including blind spot warnings, new Autopilot features such as Navigate on Autopilot, an improved Mobile App, and even Elon Musk’s “Mad Max” setting for AP-enabled lane changes. Classic Atari games have also been introduced as new Easter Eggs for the company’s vehicles.