Tesla Full Self Driving (Beta) V11 — 5-Week Review
For 6 months, my wife and I have used 9 or 10 versions of FSD Beta V10. Recently, we heard about Tesla working on a “revolutionary” upgrade from V10 to V11. This upgrade would incorporate big improvements that Tesla has been working on for a long time. Finally, we got our upgrade a little over a month ago. In a previous article, I reported on my first impressions. Here’s my report on what I have observed since then.
Yes, there have been significant improvements. For example, when working correctly, FSD Beta V11 moves you over and gets you into the correct turn lane earlier. The lane changes are also much smoother. You also get a wider blue pathway center line that lets you know that FSD Beta is active, as shown in Figure 1 above. You still have the option of using FSD only on limited-access highways, which gives you a narrower blue center line, or only using Autosteer, which gives you two very narrow blue lines on each side of the lane.
However, still too frequently, FSD Beta puts you in the wrong lane. The worst is when it puts you into a turn lane when the navigation calls for going straight. This, to me, is the biggest failure of the current system.
Also, I still observe phantom braking: This occurs infrequently, and I don’t regard this as a deal-breaker. I keep my foot resting very gently on the accelerator and I block the deceleration if it is strong or if a car is following closely behind me.
Why Haven’t These Problems Been Fixed?
Tesla has huge teams of software specialists working on these problems. Yet, I’ve seen no improvement on these two items in the 10 versions of the software I have used. My take: They don’t have a clue how to fix them! Alternatively, improvements in the generalized neural net approach Tesla is using don’t address these problems.
The wrong-lane problem — a solution? They could use a map-based solution if Musk was willing. However, he appears to be convinced that Tesla software should deal with these issues on an ad hoc basis just like a human driver does.
Phantom braking solution? Others have observed a reduction in phantom braking. However, making the 269-mile journey north from Saint George to Lindon, Utah, on I-15 recently, I observed the worst phantom braking I’ve ever seen. I observed quite strong phantom braking that occurred repeatedly (at least 10 times) during a short stretch of the trip. Since then I have observed phantom braking, but not frequently.
My 2018 Nissan Leaf with smart cruise had no problem with phantom braking. However, my Leaf was not programmed to see cars, pedestrians, or objects in my path and avoid them. It seems that the FSD Beta system has difficulty telling the difference between phantoms and legitimate dangers. I have no idea how you would fix this.
Wrong lane/failure to follow the navigation:
- The system still often changes lanes differently than I would do: For example, if I’m on 6-lane State Street on the Utah Wasatch Front and the navigation tells me that I have a left turn 0.5 miles ahead, I start moving toward the left lane or stay in the left lane if already there. FSD Beta will frequently change lanes to the right and may or may not change lanes back to the left in time to make the turn.
- Moving into the turn lane when the navigation requires going straight: I was recently driving up Provo Canyon en route to Heber, Utah. Along the route, there were several places where the two-land road widened with an extra lane for turning right. Several times, FSD Beta pulled me to the right into the turn lane in spite of the navigation directing the car to go straight. At the end of the turn lane, the car would quickly return to the main traffic lane. Not a showstopper, but very annoying.
- Same as above, but actually making a right turn when the navigation says go straight. This is a problem that has remained through multiple versions of FSD Beta. Exiting I-15 at 1600 N and going east in Orem, Utah, you have two lanes that reduce to one lane at a traffic light as you go up the hill. The navigation says to go straight, but FSD Beta determinedly keeps putting you in the right-hand lane (that will shortly disappear) even if you manually try to stay in the main traffic lane on the left. Sometimes FSD Beta will sneak you to the left at the light at the very last moment to get you into the only through traffic lane. Other times FSD Beta will make a right turn which diverges from going straight as specified by the navigation. Really? In short, FSD Beta doesn’t always follow the navigation route for some reason!
Other FSD Notes
Roundabouts/rotaries: If you don’t have FSD Beta, but only the standard Automatic Steering Assist that comes with every Tesla, your car won’t make the sharp turns required in the rotary and will fail midway through. Up until the version of FSD Beta V10.20.2.4, my car would stop dead before entering the rotary but then negotiate the rotary properly. With the latest software updates, my car will treat the rotary properly, like a yield sign, if no cars are approaching you, and will continue to navigate correctly through the rotary. I have experimented with rotaries several times with V11.3.6. The behavior was correct most of the time. However, sometimes my car would just come to a dead stop in the middle of the rotary. Not good.
Timid behavior at stop signs: FSD Beta behavior at stop signs is always a little too slow for a normal driver and is, particularly, too slow for that car behind you. When merging onto a busy street, you can always do better by making the turn manually or at least giving it help with the accelerator pedal.
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