Tesla just delivered one of the biggest upgrades to its Full Self Driving software in a long while. The Verge reports that Tesla is rolling out FSD beta version 9 to Early Access Program users, and it's a sizeable upgrade. It's not full autonomy, despite the long-standing name, but it enables numerous Autopilot driver assists off-highway (such as lane changes and turns) while delivering many fixes. You'll also see revamped visualizations that offer "additional surrounding information" and otherwise give a better sense of what the car sees.
The update simultaneously references a recently-activated feature that uses the cabin camera to make sure you're paying attention while Autopilot is engaged. Regardless of improvements, Musk urged beta testers to "please be paranoid" and be ready to take the wheel at a moment's notice.
Version 9 has been a long while in coming, as The Verge noted. Tesla first promised to begin activating FSD features in August 2018, and Elon Musk vowed to have "over a million" cars driving themselves in 2020. Clearly, that didn't pan out — even a small beta from October of that year didn't come close to letting you keep your hands off the wheel. This latest release suggests there's some progress, even if it's unlikely that true autonomous driving will be ready in the near future.
Running preproduction software is both work & fun. Beta list was in stasis, as we had many known issues to fix.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2021
Beta 9 addresses most known issues, but there will be unknown issues, so please be paranoid.
Safety is always top priority at Tesla.