Musk Claims Full Self-Driving With Tesla Vision Will Detect Turn Signals, Listen For Emergency Sirens

tesla autopilot
After months of empty promises, we are finally seeing some movement with Tesla's Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta v9 software. Tesla CEO Elon Musk repeatedly talked up the software, assuring multiple times that it would be available "in two weeks." Unfortunately, the software never materialized, which brought the ire of many customers that paid $10,000 for the FSD option on their Teslas. Finally, after all the hoopla, Musk was forced to respond.

"Generalized self-driving is a hard problem, as it requires solving a large part of real-world AI," said Musk at the time. "Didn't expect it to be so hard, but the difficulty is obvious in retrospect. Nothing has more degrees of freedom than reality."

Over the weekend, Tesla finally released its FSD Beta v9 software to a limited number of owners. The software leverages Tesla Vision to analyze what's going on around the vehicle at all times and take necessary action for adjusting speed, steering, and even changing lanes. Tesla also introduced an all-new visualization system that presents to users on the in-cabin displays in real-time.

However, many people outside the Tesla sphere question the use of "beta" software when it comes to life and death situations involving moving vehicles. Humans are hardly infallible behind the wheel, and computers can make their fair share of mistakes, as we've seen with previous Tesla Autopilot accidents. Tesla acknowledges these concerns as well in its release notes for FSB Beta v9, stating (emphasis ours):

Full Self-Driving is in early limited access Beta and must be used with additional caution. It may do the wrong thing at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention on the road. Do not become complacent. When Full Self-Driving is enabled, your vehicle will make lane changes off-highway, select forks to follow your navigation route, navigate around other vehicles and objects, and make left and right turns. Use Full Self-Driving in limited Beta only if you will pay constant attention to the road, and be prepared to act immediately, especially around blind corners, crossing intersections, and in narrow driving situations.

Tesla labels it as Full Self-Driving, but you still must "pay constant attention to the road." The two seem to be a bit in conflict with one another, but this has always been the case with Tesla's Autopilot systems in its various iterations.

You can see the FSD Beta v9 in action on real roads in the videos embedded above.

With that said, Musk is already teasing the arrival of new features for Tesla Vision, although he wisely didn't claim that they were just "two weeks" out from launch. In a tweet this morning, Musk said Tesla Vision "will soon capture turn signals, hazards, ambulance/police lights & even hand gestures."

While identifying an emergency vehicle is commendable, how will the car respond? When asked if a car equipped with Tesla Vision would be able to actually react to this information, Musk responded, "Action will follow recognition soon thereafter. Also, [car] will listen for sirens & alarms."

So, in the instance of an incoming ambulance traveling in the same direction, we would assume this means that a Tesla would slow down and pull off to the shoulder to allow the vehicle to pass. Of course, this might be trickier at an intersection where a Tesla has the green light, but we'll be interested to see how the company's machine learning algorithms handle a situation like that.