Should Tesla Adopt a 'FSD' Light To Let Others Know Autopilot Is Active?

By Kevin Armstrong
Turquoise Lights Could Indicate an Autonomous Driving Vehicle
Turquoise Lights Could Indicate an Autonomous Driving Vehicle

Mercedes-Benz's introduction of turquoise Automated Driving Marker Lights for its DRIVE PILOT system, following the SAE J3134 Recommended Practice, marks another step in the evolution of automated driving technology. This move raises the question: Should Tesla and all automakers developing autonomous driving features follow Mercedes' lead? Considering the US's lack of a national regulatory framework and the implications for the future of autonomous driving, this topic will get more significant as technology evolves.

Establishing a Common Language for Automated Vehicles

Mercedes-Benz’s initiative underscores the importance of a standardized visual communication method for automated vehicles. Such standardization would help inform all drivers and pedestrians when vehicles operate autonomously, improving road safety and predictability. If Tesla adopted this system, it could contribute significantly to establishing a universal language for automated cars, fostering a safer and more efficient integration into the existing traffic ecosystem.

There is still a long road ahead to fully autonomous driving, mainly because the technology is dealing with human behavior, which, at times, can be unpredictable. But this kind of signal could alert other FSD vehicles to travel together, lessening the risk of human error during those long road trips.

Mercedes' turquoise light
Mercedes' turquoise light

Risk of Misinterpretation

However, a significant concern for Tesla in adopting such a strategy is the potential for increased negative attention from EV critics. The move, known as 'rolling coal,' where diesel truck drivers intentionally emit large amounts of exhaust fumes near EVs, highlights tensions between traditional vehicle enthusiasts and the EV community. Introducing conspicuous turquoise lights might exacerbate this issue, making Tesla vehicles more of a target for such antagonistic behavior.

While using ADS marker lights offers clear benefits, concerns have been raised about their potential to attract intentional interference from other road users. There is also the risk of misinterpretation of these signals, which could lead to safety hazards. Tesla would need to consider these aspects carefully, ensuring that any implementation of such technology is accompanied by widespread public education and awareness campaigns to mitigate these risks.

There could also be an added risk of being a target on the road. If a pedestrian or vehicle knows that a vehicle is autonomous, they may take additional risks in passing or crossing in front of the vehicle, thinking that the vehicle will yield or stop for them.

Navigating the Regulatory Maze and Costs

Implementing turquoise lights as an indicator for full self-driving mode involves navigating complex legal and regulatory landscapes. Currently, there is no nationwide framework in the US for such technology. Mercedes only has approval for the new light in California and Nevada. Standardization requires extensive discussions and adaptations to the national road traffic and regulatory frameworks. Tesla would need to engage in these conversations actively and adapt to evolving standards, which could be resource-intensive.

However, Tesla is a leader in this sector and has experience changing opinions and getting support from competitors. Most automakers have announced plans to adopt Tesla’s NACS charging system, making the company’s charging technology the winner in North America. Others will notice and likely follow if Tesla considers a new light for its FSD.

Additionally, integrating these lights into Tesla's existing vehicle designs might require significant engineering adjustments, adding to the cost and complexity of their vehicles. Who would pay for the retrofit of the current fleet or would it only apply to new vehicles?

Enhancing Accessibility and Safety for Persons with Disabilities

One of the critical considerations for automated driving systems is their potential to provide mobility solutions for individuals who cannot obtain a driver's license due to various impairments. Clear visual signals like turquoise lights could make these technologies more accessible and understandable to all road users, including those with disabilities. By adopting such features, Tesla would be taking a step forward in creating inclusive and universally accessible transportation solutions.

The decision for Tesla to adopt turquoise lights similar to Mercedes-Benz for indicating full self-driving mode is multifaceted, involving considerations of safety, inclusivity, regulatory compliance, and public perception. As the landscape of automated driving continues to evolve, industry leaders like Tesla must navigate these challenges thoughtfully, contributing to a future where autonomous vehicles are seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, enhancing accessibility and safety for all road users.

Tesla Update 2024.20 Lets Matrix Headlights Adapt to Curves, Adds Supercharger Leaderboards and More

By Karan Singh

Tesla has been on a roll with updates recently, and now update 2024.20 was released to employees over the weekend. This update builds on the many features in the Spring Update and adds a few big improvements.

Adaptive Headlights

New updates to Adaptive Headlights are arriving for European cars with matrix headlights. The new update allows the headlights to adapt to curves in the road ahead of you, enabling better illumination. Having the adaptive headlights work for curves is the second major update for matrix headlights. Update 2024.8 added adaptive high-beam support, letting your high beams stay on longer by turning off select LEDs in the headlights.

Update 2024.2 first brought adaptive high beams to the new Model 3, before it was later introduced to older vehicles with matrix headlights. At this time, it’s not clear whether the improvements to headlights around curves will be exclusive to matrix headlights or also support the new Model 3.

How to Tell If You Have Matrix Headlights

How do you know if you have matrix headlights on your Tesla? On the outer edge of the headlight, there will be a large, round projector dome, like in the image below. If there isn’t a dome, those are standard non-matrix headlights.
Another way to tell is to run a stock light show while facing a wall. If the Tesla logo, in letters, pops up, you have matrix headlights.

Matrix headlights have a circular dome projector on the outer edge.
Matrix headlights have a circular dome projector on the outer edge.

For now, North America still does not have adaptive headlight support, mostly due to legislative and testing issues in the United States. The US recently approved adaptive headlights, and a Tesla employee mentioned they’re working on it. Canada has legalized adaptive headlights since 2018, so we see this deployed in North America at some point in the future.

Supercharger Races on Beach Buggy Racing 2

Tesla is still improving its Arcade functionality, with the addition of local leaderboards at Superchargers in Beach Buggy Racing 2. It appears that each individual Supercharger site will have its own leaderboard, which drivers can compete on while their cars charge. Tesla says there will also be special races to compete in this Beach Buggy Racing 2 update.

Tesla owners can plug in and play with a controller, the touchscreen, or their vehicle’s steering wheel. Thanks to steer-by-wire on the Cybertruck, the actual wheels on the truck won’t move like they do on other Tesla models when playing the game.

We continue to hope that future refreshes to the S, 3, X, and Y will eventually receive steer-by-wire as well, as the feature has quite a few unique uses, whether driving or parked.

Autopilot Strikes and Suspension

An updated Autopilot Strike system, similar to the one that is on Tesla’s upcoming FSD V12.4 update, is on 2024.20 as well. At five strikes, users will be suspended from the use of Autopilot like before, but now Tesla will remove a strike for each 7-day period the driver goes without receiving a strike.

FSD 12.4 also improves vision-based monitoring and removes the steering wheel nag, but that’s not in this latest Tesla update, but will likely be added in the future.

Tesla tends to release new Autopilot features in their FSD updates before releasing them to the wider public for regular Autopilot use.

Hot Weather Improvements

The last set of user-end improvements coming in 2024.20 will be related to hot weather, the opposite of 2024.2.6’s cold weather update. This set of changes intends to improve AUTO mode HVAC performance in hot weather, helping to cool down the cabin faster, while also maintaining comfort at lower noise levels.

There have been several updates in the last six months to Tesla’s HVAC systems, all helping to deliver a quieter, more comfortable experience, with one of the last major ones introducing cool-down or warm-up periods before blowing air into the car cabin.

Tesla Software in China Shows 'Employee FSD Beta Program' as Tesla Prepares for Launch

By Karan Singh

Chris Zeng, a Chinese Tesla content creator on X, recently posted an image with Tesla’s Spring Update – 2024.14, with the words “Employee FSD Beta Program: Registered.”

He also confirmed that although this text appears in the vehicle, there are no actual FSD features enabled yet.

FSD Beta Coming to China

Recently, Tesla began to offer Enhanced Autopilot subscriptions in China, and Chinese corporate giant Baidu announced that it will be providing enhanced 3D mapping for Tesla vehicles as well.

On a recent trip to China, Elon Musk spoke with Premier Li Qiang on the rollout of FSD to China. Later follow-ups said that “it may be possible [for FSD to arrive in China] very soon”.

FSD Shadow Mode

Tesla’s cars can operate FSD in Shadow Mode – which means that the vehicle is running FSD in the background without any real output except analytics. This is a common software practice that lets software engineers compare the process they’re testing against an existing known output and compare the results. In this case, Tesla compares what FSD would do to what the driver does, and any discrepancies are reported back to be analyzed.

With this information, we could guess that FSD has been operating in Shadow Mode in China for a while, and this new Employee FSD Beta Program will be the beginning of employee testing in China, providing even more data for the end-to-end process that is FSD V12.

FSD Beta, not Supervised FSD

Most interestingly, the photo refers to “FSD Beta” instead of “Supervised,” which Tesla started using with FSD 12.3.3 in March 2024. This could imply that FSD in China isn’t ready for a “Supervised” variant, and it’s considered to be in more of a testing stage.

In the photo, we can also see that it says “Wave 1,” which is what Tesla calls the group of employees who receive “pre-release” Tesla updates on their personal vehicles. Wave 1 serves as a final test for software before its released to the public. In most cases, the software is rolled out publicly within a couple of weeks, however, there have been times when bugs are found and Tesla releases revision before a public release.

Release Date

Prior to larger releases here in North America, we generally see Tesla ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) testing and verification vehicles on the roads, which have not yet been spotted in China.

Whether these vehicles will be needed in China is up for debate, but once FSD features begin rolling out to employees, we should get a better idea of a public release in China.

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