Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta software has leaked, and it’s being passed around in the Tesla hacking community.
Fortunately, it’s not for any nefarious reason.
As of now, Tesla’s FSD Beta software is only being tested internally and as part of the automaker’s “early access program,” which includes some Tesla customers.
It allows the driver to enter a location in the navigation system. The vehicle will attempt to drive itself to the location with constant supervision by the driver, who remains responsible and needs to be ready to take control at all times.
CEO Elon Musk has been promising a wider release to Tesla owners in the US who purchased the FSD package, but the release has been delayed several times.
Recently, he said that it would be by the end of September.
Tesla’s approach to releasing FSD has been criticized by many.
On one side, some are saying that the automaker is being too aggressive, and on the other side, customers who paid up to $10,000 for the Full Self-Driving package criticized that only some customers selected by Tesla are getting the new features while they have to wait.
But now we learn that only people chosen by Tesla actually have access to the FSD Beta software.
Sources familiar with the matter told Electrek that binary firmware files of Tesla FSD Beta have leaked, and they are being passed around in the Tesla root access community.
Root access, with Linux-based systems, like Tesla’s operating system, generally refers to being able to log in to some root account on the server or being able to run commands as root on the server.
Some hackers who have Tesla vehicles have been known to use root access to look through Tesla’s software updates and even activate unreleased or dormant features.
Within that community, it has been known that the FSD Beta firmware has been going around for a while, and with root access you can actually run it in your vehicle.
They had been keeping it quiet as to not alarm Tesla, but now a Ukrainian Tesla owner has posted a video running version 8.2 of FSD Beta in his own vehicle in Kiev, where Tesla hasn’t released the software:
This has indirectly outted the software as having leaked beyond Tesla’s internal testing and early access program.
While it’s an older version, sources familiar with the matter have told Electrek that the newer version FSD Beta version 9 is also being passed around.
Tesla has only been adapting its full self-driving software to the US market, and it is currently not optimized for use outside the US, where road markings and signs are different.
In this video, you can see the software having some issues because of this fact, but it is performing relatively well despite the limitations.
Unlike other companies developing full self-driving technology, like Waymo or GM’s Cruise, Tesla doesn’t rely on HD maps and geo-blocking, the automaker is attempting to create a fully autonomous vision and neural net-based driver that could theoretically handle any driving situation.
However, its neural nets still need to be trained with data corresponding to the roads where it will be used, and Ukraine is obviously not a priority since Tesla has yet to even launch its electric vehicles in the market.
A source familiar with the matter told Electrek that Tesla wasn’t aware of the FSD leak until recently despite it being ongoing for a while.
The same source says that the root community has attempted to limit the circulation of the firmware as there’s no bad intention other than wanting to actually use it.
However, there have apparently been attempts to purchase the leak.
As we previously reported, Tesla has had cybersecurity issues in the past, but the automaker has been taking steps to improve its security.
Last year, we detailed some of those efforts in our featured story: The Big Tesla Hack: A hacker gained control over the entire fleet, but fortunately he’s a good guy.
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