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Tesla admits that the ‘full’ in its Full Self-Driving autopilot is a lie

Tesla’s Autopilot is still Level 2, which denotes a semi-automated driving system that still needs constant supervision by a human driver.

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Image: Consumer Reports

Even Tesla doesn’t think it will get its Full Self-Driving autopilot driving “in excess of human this year,” according to comments made to the California Department of Motor Vehicles at the end of April.

It was a public record request from transparency group PlainSite that uncovered this snippet, which shows that Tesla knows CEO Elon Musk has been over-zealous in his timeline for the company’s advanced driver assist system to achieve sentient thought full automatic driving.

The skinny is that Tesla’s Autopilot is still Level 2, which denotes a semi-automated driving system that still needs constant supervision by a human driver. Kinda sounds like a teenager learning to drive, and that’s probably the closest analogy you can get.

“Elon’s tweet does not match engineering reality per CJ. Tesla is at Level 2 currently,” notes a California DMV conference call on March 9.

To be fully autonomous, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving system would have to get to Level 5. That means the car has to be able to drive itself to anywhere, under any conditions, and without a human to babysit.

Tesla’s representatives told the California DMV that it’s unlikely to get to that stage by the end of 2021, stating “The ratio of driver interaction would need to be in the magnitude of 1 or 2 million miles per driver interaction to move into higher levels of automation. Tesla indicated that Elon is extrapolating on the rates of improvement when speaking about L5 capabilities.”

Now, before we get weird nerds all up in our comments protecting their Meme King, this isn’t the only time Musk has oversold the capabilities of Tesla’s Autopilot. Heck, it won’t even be the last time, since he’s known for showmanship. Tesla’s own website has subdued, probably-approved-by-Legal descriptions of Autopilot which characterize it as “safety and convenience features.” Doesn’t sound much like self-driving to me.

As Tesla’s PR department is no more, we stuck a request for comment into a sealed bottle and threw it into the ocean. Maybe if we get some prevailing currents, that request will be found by someone who actually works at Tesla, and we’ll get a response.

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