Tesla’s newest self-driving update comes with ominous warning

Tesla started rolling out a long-delayed update to its “self-driving” software over the weekend — but the company warned drivers to not fall asleep at the wheel just yet. 

The new update — a new beta version of Tesla’s autonomous-driving software that costs $10,000 — allows cars to use its features on local streets — a serious upgrade from the current “Autopilot” mode, which is only available on highways.

Despite continued controversies over safety, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had been promising to extend the feature to local streets since at least 2018. 

The latest update, officially called “Full Self-Driving Beta Version 9,” includes a warning that drivers must remain awake and alert at the wheel because the car “may do the wrong thing at the worst time,” according to images shared by Tesla drivers online. 

Musk himself also urged drivers to be cautious, warning, “there will be unknown issues, so please be paranoid.” 

The update also includes improvements to the in-car driving display and the camera that measures “driver attentiveness.” 

Teslas’ in-car cameras will monitor whether drivers are keeping their eyes on the road and will send them “audible alerts” to pay attention while self-driving mode is engaged, according to the update notes. Images from the in-car camera will not leave the vehicle unless users specifically enable data sharing, the notes say. 

Tesla’s use of the words “self-driving” to describe a feature that requires drivers to remain alert may be misleading, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. In May, the agency said it is currently reviewing whether the company is violating the state’s advertising regulations, but did not immediately reply to a request on Monday. 

The update is currently only available to members of the Tesla’s “early access program,” which includes 2,000 Tesla drivers — most of whom are company employees, according to electric vehicle news site Electrek. 

Interior of a Tesla
Tesla CEO Elon Musk had been promising to extend the feature to local streets since at least 2018. 
LightRocket via Getty Images

In June, federal safety regulators revealed they have opened 30 investigations into Tesla crashes that included 10 deaths since 2016 in which “autopilot” mode was suspected to have been in use. 

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