This long-anticipated update, which recently commenced its rollout to customers, represents a crucial pivot in Tesla’s approach towards self-driving technology.
CEO Elon Musk has highlighted that the v12.1.2 software introduces "end-to-end neural nets", a fundamental shift from the previous versions where vehicle controls were primarily governed by explicit programming.
What sets FSD v12 apart?
The FSD Beta v12 distinguishes itself by upgrading the city-streets driving stack to a single, comprehensive neural network.
This network, trained on millions of video clips, replaces over 300,000 lines of explicit C++ code. This transition signifies that not only the vehicle's vision system but also its behavioural responses are now powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
This development is a leap from the earlier versions where neural nets were used in a limited capacity, with many vehicle reactions being pre-coded for specific scenarios.
A 30-minute test drive video by Whole Mars Catalog on YouTube shows FSD Beta v12 in action.
Public rollout and initial feedback
While FSD v12 was initially used within Tesla’s internal test fleet, it has now started reaching customers, particularly early FSD Beta testers.
Despite Elon Musk's previous suggestions that the 'beta' tag would be dropped, the release notes for the update still refer to it as 'beta'.
Early reports from users who have received the FSD v12.1.2 update indicate a more human-like driving behaviour, with smoother responses and an improved ability to handle complex driving scenarios such as slowing down for speed bumps.
It also aims to address driving in heavy precipitation areas, an aspect that Musk had previously identified as needing further improvement.
This incremental rollout appears to be focused on ensuring stability and reliability before a wider release.
Will this version of Tesla's FSD technology finally lead to mass adoption? That remains to be seen, but at the very least, it brings the company ever closer to its lofty goals.
Interestingly, New Zealand legislation does not require a driver to be present for a vehicle to be legally operated on a public road. Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built for the Kiwi market use Tesla Vision to deliver Autopilot features.