This past weekend, the American automaker pushed software version 2021.32.22 to its fleet. The software update added the much-anticipated Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta Request Button. In order to join the limited-access beta program, drivers are required to opt-in to driving data collection, allowing the company to determine whether their driving is safe enough to qualify for the FSD beta program.
On Twitter, Tesla “Technoking” Elon Musk stated that to get added to the beta testing program, Tesla will collect the data for “7 days after [accepting the terms] to log driving style.”
Musk further explains that the Safety Score is an extension of its own Insurance calculator, usually used by the Tesla Insurance team to gather safety data to help set their rates.
When paired with the updated Tesla app, owners gain access to a range of metrics related to their driving safety. Tesla enthusiasts have taken to Twitter to compare scores, in addition to exchanging tips for raising their scores. At the end of each drive, users can access their safety score in the app, which gives an overall score, breaks down the reasoning behind the score they’re given, and details which areas need improvement. With few exceptions, owners have been trying to hit that magic “100%”- which has essentially turned “safe” driving into a game.
Tesla considers five factors when determining a driver’s Safety Score– forced autopilot disengagements (known among owners as “Autopilot Jail”), hard braking, aggressive turning, following distance, and forward collision warning activations. On their site, Tesla explains that “The […] formula ignores any events (not just Forward Collision Warnings) that occur while Autopilot is engaged and appropriately utilized. This does not include Forced Autopilot Disengagement”, and further details that “Miles driven while Autopilot is engaged [are] used to determine the Forward Collision Warnings per 1,000 Miles. Miles driven on Autopilot are also considered when calculating the mileage-weighted Safety Score.”
By pushing this update to its fleet, Tesla’s gamification of safe driving is prepping a new generation of beta testers to enter their program- which could quell some people’s fears that a wave of new testers would allow unsafe drivers to abuse the feature. Tesla reminds testers that the software is “in limited beta” and that it should only be used if the driver will “pay constant attention to the road, and be prepared to act immediately”.
It still remains to be seen if there is a correlation between a high Tesla safety score and proper use of the driver assistance system. We hope users will know when to disengage the system and take over manual driving during certain circumstances. At this time, there are no clear guidelines or safety tests from Tesla to use the FSD Beta software.
Providing incentives for safe driving is a creative way to encourage aggressive drivers to slow down- as insurance companies have proven with tech such as Progressive’s Snapshot tool, or State Farm Insurance’s Drive Safe & Save program. Personally, I look forward to seeing the implications this feature has on the insurance market, as Tesla vehicles often have higher insurance premiums due to their high repair costs.