Full Self Driving Beta arrives in Canada, drives your Tesla for you

The wait is over! After releasing FSD Beta, or Full Self Driving Beta, to its fleet of cars in the US in October last year, Tesla finally launched the feature in Canada.

Getting the update

It’s been a long wait, with Elon Musk first floating the idea of FSD Beta coming to Canada back in January this year. Tesla owners were given the option to sign up for the limited early access on February 26, but the software update with the actual feature started rolling out recently. Even then, it’s a staggered rollout with quite a few hoops to jump through, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see the option in your car just yet.

The biggest hoop? The safety score. Bugs and glitches are a concern with any beta software, be it your phone or computer, and infinitely more so when it comes to a car. Tesla wants to offer access to only the best drivers, and the way the company judged that was with a driving safety score. The car and connected app monitored your driving and scored it on a scale of zero to a hundred. Only those with safety scores of 99 and above have received the FSD Beta update.

Safety score calculator

Maintaining a high safety score is much harder than it sounds, though. Some of the factors Tesla takes into consideration are forward-collision warnings, hard braking, aggressive turning, unsafe following, forced Autopilot disengagements, and more. “It’s Toronto. You will brake hard,” says Jayanth Ramachandran, a Tesla Model Y owner who had to work through more than three weeks of “safe” driving to maintain a 100 safety score.

There were consequences for even a single misstep. “When my car detected hard braking, I had to add another 200kms of ‘clean’ driving to get my score back up,” says Ramachandran. “It got so bad that I wasn’t enjoying driving my car anymore.” Well, after maintaining a 100 safety score for 1,750kms, he doesn’t have to.

“It’s a little scary, but also amazing, to see the steering wheel turn on its own like that,” says Ramachandran, as he, or I should say, the car, takes me on a drive around the neighbourhood.

Tesla’s autopilot system was already fantastic on highways, changing lanes by itself without human involvement. You could also have it auto-park and summon the car from your garage to have it greet you on the driveway. FSD Beta adds driving on city roads and suburban areas to the mix. The vehicle recognizes red lights, stop signs, and pedestrians, automatically take 90-degree right and left turns, and can navigate mall and store parking lots.

FSD Beta in action

It’s far from perfect, of course. It is beta software, after all. “It would take a right turn really quickly and jerk to self-correct after being off the line,” says Ramachandran. But it’s getting better every day. He says there was a marked performance improvement the next day, and it was a smooth ride, albeit at night with very little traffic, by the time I got into his car a few days later.

If you were planning to order your Tesla now that FSD Beta is available, there’s a long wait in store. Expected delivery dates for the Model 3 are from June to August, but anyone looking for a Model Y will have to wait until October. Full Self Driving isn’t included in the $73,900 price tag of the car either. Adding the features will set you back an additional $10,600 for now. But with the price of the autopilot going up to US$ 12,000 south of the border, we can expect a similar price increase in Canada as well.


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