Tesla just unlocked its full self-driving mode beta in downtown Toronto so look out
Today in things that might not end well for Toronto pedestrians, Tesla just lifted a geofence that, until now, prohibited drivers from using Full Self-Driving (FSD) mode in the downtown core of Canada's biggest city.
Fans of the electric vehicle giant started buzzing last week about a software update rumoured to remove restrictions for full self-driving beta testers in downtown Toronto, parts of which were put into an "exclusion zone" when the FSD program first came to Canada.
Local Tesla owners were initially stoked to learn in March of 2022 that they could test out the self-driving features of their vehicles north of the border... until they learned of a major exception.
It fast became apparent that FSD wouldn't work in parts of Toronto, displaying a message saying "full self-driving unavailable at current location" every time a driver attempted to go downtown.
The company's infamously antagonistic owner, Elon Musk, explained on Twitter at the time that full self-driving wasn't available in the region because "Toronto streetcars are not yet handled well by FSD."
The geofence is essentially Bloor-Danforth southwards—the downtown core of Toronto with the bulk of skyscrapers and high rise buildings. pic.twitter.com/G2QIthV6cb— Gary Mark⚡️Blue Sky Kites (@blueskykites) March 27, 2022
Seven months later, things appear to have changed.
Tesla started deploying its FSD Beta version 10.69.3.1 software in Canada over the weekend, allowing existing testers, as well as new ones who were not previously part of the program, to go hands-free in The 6ix.
Toronto-based Tesla fanatic and FSD beta tester Chansoo Byeon confirmed as much by sharing an image of his car in self-driving mode at the previously-restricted intersection of Yonge and Adelaide on Monday afternoon.
He also announced on Monday morning that the Canadian tester fleet had indeed expanded, sharing screenshots from a friend who had never been able to access FSD before the newest software update.
Not many people in Toronto outside the hardcore Tesla community seem to be aware of this development yet, but even beta testers beyond the city's boundaries are already urging their fellow FSD users to exercise caution here.
"Toronto and Montreal are the most dangerous cities to drive in," tweeted one on Monday. "Infrastructure is absolute garbage. Use FSD with caution in those cities."
Even those who are fans of the technology admit that downtown Toronto had been geofenced off for a reason.
"Since Canada got FSD Beta this spring, it wouldn't recognize the streetcars stopping and doors opening, then letting people off [the streetcar]," wrote one.
"TBH, a lot of Toronto drivers and tourists ignore this too. But it could have killed people, so Tesla geofenced downtown until fixed."
"Yeah the Toronto street cars stop in the left lane of the road so if you're not prepared for the pedestrians walking out onto an open lane it would be a bloodbath," replied another.
I would be careful with this. Downtown toronto is crazy— CKM (@PongVamos) November 21, 2022
In 2021 alone, 58 people were killed and 183 were seriously injured on roads within the city.
Tesla doesn't have the greatest track record either; According to the Washington Post, Tesla vehicles running the company's autopilot software had been involved in 273 crashes over the past year as of this summer. And those are only the crashes reported to regulators.
Fortune Magazine reported similarly in October that 11 people had been killed in the U.S. between May and September of 2022 as the result of crashes "involving vehicles that were using automated driving systems."
Ten of the 11 vehicles involved in these fatal collisions were made by Tesla.
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