Should beta self-driving software be allowed on the road?
No, I'm seriously asking each and everyone of you!
Of course, it's Tesla
You have to give it to them - Tesla basically pioneered software updates for your car, so you'll have everything new that works with your existing hardware. This absolutely adds value and in a way helps to retain a Tesla's value over the years. At least to a point. Think of it like what Apple does to their iPhone range. But what about Beta versions?
Well, first of all we should define Beta - the second letter in the Greek alphabet and for software it means it's feature-complete, but there are existing and known faults. It's called Beta, because it's not fully ready! And this might not be a huge issue for a phone, but it can have some enormous implications for a car. Now when it comes to self-driving, it's not just an incredibly risky move, but it's outright dangerous, especially because of all claims that follow such a software release. Yet this is exactly what Tesla did.
Credit: Tesla Image Gallery
So why is the rush to release something that's not ready? It's a Beta version, so there is no argument for any rush. But it begs the question - should this be allowed? Regulators don't mind that, apparently. And this is an issue! Self driving Teslas have a bad reputation already and this incomplete software release may (and probably will) do even more damage. What's worse, there was never any discussion among the general public about such risky moves. Do you really need the latest version before it is complete?
There are two sides of the story. Firstly, this Beta version enables drivers to use many of Autopilot’s advanced driver-assist features on local, non-highway streets, which is great. But the real question is whether it’s ready for primetime. And the answer is definitive - NO! It's called Beta for a reason! As always, Elon Musk gave his usual Twitter blessing, telling all how much he cares.
“Safety is always top priority at Tesla.”
Yeah, right... The same Tesla release notes included with the update warn people that the particular update "may do the wrong thing at the worst time"! Being aware of this warning makes me wonder - why would you release to the general public something like that? This doesn't sound like safety is a top priority, does it?! Of course, every company likes to claim bragging rights, but to do it while knowingly putting human lives in danger is . . words cannot describe what I really think of that!
Should it be allowed?
No! Ok, let me rephrase that - HELL NO!!! No matter how much warnings would you put in those release notes, there is the "Elon Factor" who's driving the hype, so much so, that it's just a matter of time before the next Autopilot accident hits the news. And because this Beta version is advertised as a non-highway thing, there is the real possibility for more innocent people to get hurt on our busy city streets. Now it's time to ask the difficult question:
If the manufacturer warns you that your car only has a Beta version brakes, would you drive it?