There are a lot of headlines about Tesla that overstate a story for clicks, and I can assure you this is not one of them.
Before I'm accused of being a hater: I am a Tesla owner and shareholder. I'm no Elon Musk fanboy, but I definitely root on Tesla's environmentally-driven mission of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy. I'll also say that I personally hope this does not result in reactionary regulation of autonomous driving software in the USA because current rules seem reasonable and I don't necessarily trust that changes would happen in good faith.
And major hugops to all the developers and admins doing their best with all of this — I'm posting this on DEV because it's an interesting software story that deserves attention, not to be critical of the engineering teams. They strike me as very misssion-driven over there, and are generally doing incredible things.
With all that said, this was a doozy...
Here's what went down:
- Tesla was set to release FSD Beta 10.3 on Friday night. It gets delayed due to regressions.
- Rollout happens Saturday night.
- Sunday morning, many customers (who all opted in to the beta) experience a variety of problems: Most alarmingly — swerving into adjacent lane while FSD is not enabled
- Tesla tries to rollback to version 10.2, but accidentally rolls back to some other build without FSD enabled at all.
I am one of the customers with the FSD beta myself. I am out of town, but my wife described a pretty scary scene that fits in alongside the reports from the rest of the users.
Rolling back software is generally always easier said than done, but that doesn't act as an excuse for a company building software which is fundamentally unsafe if buggy.
Musk's latest tweet today...
Elon MuskPop music has both literal & figurative Stockholm Syndrome20:38 PM - 24 Oct 2021
Tesla certainly gives off the impression of a company that rides some of their software teams to meet absurd deadlines, work through the weekends, and generally work to exhaustion: That is the story I've gotten from anyone I've met who works in Tesla or SpaceX engineering. They definitely hire for people who are passionate about the mission and self-select for the journey, but that kind of culture tends to drive these kinds of mistakes.
At the end of the day, mistakes happen, but failure to communicate effectively has consistently caused frustration between Tesla and its customers/users. Tesla no longer has a PR team, which is fine in and of itself, but this is an organization that badly needs to delegate its communication strategy over matters like this. Not to a PR department per se, but a trusted leader within the organization who can communicate directly.
Tesla is not exactly opaque. They are remarkably transparent in many ways, but these problems hurt their mission and they need to level up. If they are going to be rolling out beta software and pushing a lot of good things forward at a great pace, they need to learn from this — starting at the top.
Happy coding ❤️