Tesla Self-Driving Feature Puts Car in 'Assertive' Mode

It allows vehicle to shorten follow distance, come to 'rolling stops'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2022 2:19 PM CST
Critics Pile On Tesla's 'Assertive' Self-Driving Mode
A 2021 Model 3 sedan charges at a Tesla dealership in Littleton, Colo., on June 27, 2021.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

A Tesla self-driving feature is drawing backlash for what some are saying could lead to too-aggressive driving. The Verge reports that the company's Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta allows vehicle operators to choose from one of three driving modes that control how the car reacts to road conditions: "Chill," "Average," and "Assertive." It's that last one that's causing concern, with a description noting a car in this mode will shorten its follow distance behind other vehicles, not get out of passing lanes, and pull off more speed-based lane changes; plus, it "may perform rolling stops."

A YouTube video shows testers comparing the various modes side by side, though the Verge notes the test doesn't take place in heavy traffic or bad weather, making it hard to see stark differences. Axios notes that all companies manufacturing self-driving cars have been contending with the issue of how to get their vehicles to "blend into local traffic patterns, without being overly cautious or aggressive." Still, Tesla's latest FSD update—which CEO Elon Musk himself noted hit some bumps in October—is rubbing some the wrong way. "I guess 'Road Rage Mode' didn't fit on the screen," one critic tweeted.

Another called the company's approach "irresponsible" and tagged Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Meanwhile, if you want the privilege of having FSD in your Tesla—which still doesn't allow the car to drive fully autonomously, as you must stay alert to what's going on on the road and keep your hands on the wheel—it's about to cost you a bit more going forward. On Friday, Musk tweeted that the price for the feature in the US will jump to $12,000 on Jan. 17—up $2,000. Ars Technica reports that FSD cost $3,000 when it came out in late 2016 before rising to $6,000 by April 2019. After several incremental increases, FSD had been $10,000 since October 2020. (More Tesla stories.)

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