2020 is in its final hours and to conclude and as if to confirm what an incredible year it has been for the world of autonomous driving, a video is released that shows just how far the technology has come.
In the video, a Tesla Model 3 with the latest version Full Self Driving (FSD) Beta drives from San Francisco to Los Angeles without a single human intervention. After all, a distance of over 600 kilometers (382 miles). The owner reports here on his drive:
In a long-anticipated autonomy milestone, the latest build of Tesla’s Autopilot FSD Beta has driven from the streets of San Francisco all the way into Los Angeles with no human intervention. As far as we’re aware, this is the first known and recorded instance of Tesla’s Autopilot FSD beta driving from San Francisco all the way to Los Angeles without a single intervention.
The drive was not perfect, but it was such an impressive milestone that I had to share it anyway. Of course, the car did have to stop to charge. On this trip the battery wasn’t fully charged, so the car had to make two stops: in Firebaugh and Kettleman City. Next time I will try to do it with just one charging stop so there’s even less human interaction. However, stopping twice over the journey is a more impressive demonstration of FSD’s ability to navigate rural areas, and is more realistic as to what a typical family’s journey would look like making this trip. It would also be great if someone with a 400 mile Model S could attempt to do an FSD drive between SF and LA with no charging stops.
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After the car made it to Los Angeles, there was one tiny intervention where a giant piece of debris on the road popped up suddenly after a car moved out of the way. To be cautious I couldn’t wait to see if FSD would avoid it and had to make sure to move over myself. But besides that one second of grabbing the steering wheel, there were no interventions from start to destination. Next time, I expect I can record a run where there is truly no human involvement. I’m sure some people will say that means there was an intervention, but I will note that it occurred after the car crossed the border into Los Angeles so the achievement of zero interventions from San Francisco to LA still stands in my view. No matter how you look at it, this drive was an extremely impressive showing of FSD. I’ll just have to try it again soon for a truly perfect take.
Another imperfection was that crossing Market Street the car exhibited some strange behavior and changed into the adjacent lane. Normally most people would have disengaged at this point, but I watched closely and let it do it’s thing because it was doing so well that I thought there was a possibility of it making it to LA without intervention. I’m sure some people will criticize me for this and say I should have taken over, but I was watching very carefully and was ready to intervene if needed. The car was able to make it across the street without disengaging ultimately.
This is a milestone for long-distance autonomous travel using only cameras, and I expect to see many more like it. This is just the first of many such cross California and coast to coast drives without human intervention. Congratulations to the Tesla Autopilot / FSD team on this stunning accomplishment.
Here is the ride in time-lapse video:
This article was also published in German.