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Tesla Quietly Releases a Huge Update

For people who think Elon Musk has been ignoring Tesla in favor of Twitter, the EV maker had a Black Friday surprise for drivers.
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Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report may feel like the old toy that Elon Musk forgot about when he got a shiny new one in Twitter TWTR, but the company is still making moves that should excite the fanboys. 

Musk took to his new toy to announce that Tesla has released its Full Self-Driving Beta for its drivers in North America. 

Tesla has been slowly expanding access to the beta for a while now, but now anyone who wants to pay for the beta will be able to have it. 

FSD is an upgrade of Tesla's "Autopilot" driver-assist feature that uses sensors and cameras around the vehicle to assist drivers in navigating traffic. 

The program features automated steering and parking, smart vehicle summoning and traffic light/stop sign recognition, according to Endgadget

Tesla has been talking about launching self-driving features since 2018, but there have been hiccups in the road, including fatal car crashes.

FSD Safety Questions

Tesla vehicles have accounted for nearly 70% of reported crashes involving advanced driver-assist systems, according to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

But the NHTSA did put a caveat on its findings. 

"I would advise caution before attempting to draw conclusions based only on the data that we’re releasing. In fact, the data alone may raise more questions than they answer,” NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff said, according to CNBC

Tesla cars represented 273 accidents, out of 392 total crashes, involving advanced driver-assist systems since companies were forced to start reporting those incidents in 2021. 

Honda was second with 90 reported accidents. Subaru had 10, Ford  (F) - Get Free Report had five, and all other companies reported four or fewer accidents. 

Tesla is believed to have the most vehicles on the road with advanced driver assistance programs, the report noted.

“This is an unprecedented effort to gather nearly real time safety data involving these advanced technologies,” Cliff said. “Understanding the story that the data tell will take time as most of NHTSA’s work does but it’s a story we need to hear.”

Tesla's FSD Strategy

Earlier this year, Musk, said that the latest FSD Beta would be available for about 100,000 vehicles, with promises of GPS upgrades. 

This update came after Tesla said it was recalling software from 53,822 of its Model S, X, 3, and Y vehicles in the U.S. to eliminate a feature that let cars automatically roll past stop signs. 

Federal and California safety regulators have investigations in progress regarding Autopilot and whether drivers using it develop a false sense of security, Reuters reported.

"The Justice Department investigation potentially represents a more serious level of scrutiny," Reuters writes, "because of the possibility of criminal charges against the company or individual executives, the people familiar with the inquiry said."

The Justice Department investigation focuses on whether the company misled customers about the capabilities and safety of the self-driving feature.

"Officials conducting their inquiry could ultimately pursue criminal charges, seek civil sanctions or close the probe without taking any action," Reuters reported.

"Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment," the Tesla Website says. "While these features are designed to become more capable over time, the currently enabled features do not make the vehicle autonomous."