While Tesla is testing its Full Self Driving functionality in the beta version with 2,000 customers by now, and is still aiming for a Level 4 driving capability, emails to the California DMV have surfaced that speak a somewhat different language. There, Tesla engineers assure the authority representatives that the FSD is currently only a Level 2 functionality.
Reminder: Level 2 functions according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) describes a driving function where, for example, lane keeping or automatic braking takes place under the supervision of a driver. Level 4, on the other hand, assumes that the vehicle does not require intervention by a human driver and can come to a safe stop in cases where the system is facing problems.
The FSD functionality, as shown in videos by the testers, can so far only be used under the rule that the driver can take control at any time.
So how can we explain the discrepancy in Elon Musk’s statements to customers and the engineers’ statements to the California Transportation Authority? Quite simply: for legal reasons, the FSD cannot be classified as Level 4 today, as it is still a matter of approvals and corresponding certification. The beta testing Tesla is doing with customer testers is still for development of the feature. So it is clear that legally (and technically) the FSD does not yet meet Level 4, but the goal is clearly to bring it to Level 4 both legally and technically.
Elon Musk had also promised two weeks ago to make the functionality available in test mode to all Tesla owners with purchased FSD functionality in a few days, however, he has now postponed that by at least a month as there are just significant architectural changes to FSD from version 8.x to 9.0.
This article was also published in German.