California Senator Wants DMV to Investigate Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta

Lena Gonzalez, chair of the California Senate’s Transportation Committee, on Tuesday sent a letter to California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Director Steve Gordon, raising concerns over Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta and urging him to investigate — reports The Los Angeles Times.

Full Self-Driving is Tesla’s suite of advanced driver assistance features, available as a $10,000 USD add-on or a $199 USD/month subscription and currently in a public beta.

A number of governmental institutions and regulators have recently questioned just how safe it is to essentially let experimental autonomous driving software run rampant on American streets, in addition to its problematic branding.

“I have seen a number of videos of Tesla vehicles operating with FSD engaged where it appears that serious driving errors were made and collisions were avoided only because of swift action by the driver,” Gonzalez says in her letter.

Gonzalez went on to describe FSD’s apparent poor performance, and said that while she is only privy to FSD beta safety and performance data she has been able to gather from videos of the technology in action, the DMV “has the knowledge to assess these situations.”

The California DMV was appointed the state’s chief autonomous-driving regulator by Legislature in 2012.

Gonzalez went on to ask Gordon and the DMV for answers to the following questions:

  • “What is your assessment of the FSD beta trials?”
  • “Is there a danger to the public?”
  • “If the DMV finds the beta program unsafe, how does the DMV plan to address any potential concerns?”

The DMV has said that it is reviewing Gonzalez’s letter.

Tesla’s FSD and Autopilot technologies have landed the electric vehicle (EV) pioneer into quite a bit of hot water as of late. Earlier this year, the U.S. government opened an investigation into Tesla Autopilot over multiple crashes involving first responder vehicles.

FSD beta technology has fortunately not resulted in any reported deaths or serious injuries, but Jennifer Homendy, head of the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), the federal government’s crash investigator, said, “It shouldn’t require a fatality for regulators and politicians to take action” on Tesla’s FSD deployment.

Tesla on Saturday started rolling out Full Self-Driving beta 10.6.1 to the public, wrapped up in firmware update 2021.36.8.10.

Any beta testers of the software are required to have full control of the vehicle at all times, as any miscues can result in lower Safety Scores, which could mean being booted from the software trial.