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Tesla’s ‘Assertive’ self-driving mode drives like a total jerk

Tesla is adding an ‘Assertive’ driving mode to its Full Self-Driving beta, which sounds an awful lot more like an ‘Aggressive’ mode.

The new setting, which was first added to the beta in October, but spied over the weekend by The Verge, will see the automated mode perform rolling stops as well as following other vehicles more closely. It’ll change lanes more often, but will also keep you in the overtaking lane when the situation permits.

The Assertive profile is described by Tesla as follows: “In this profile, your Model X will have a smaller follow distance, perform more frequent speed lane changes, will not exit passing lanes and may perform rolling stops.”

As you’ve probably worked out, it does a lot of stuff your driving instructor would discourage, and any half-decent road user out there would respond to with multiple expletives. Heck, it could even be classed as “dangerous.”

The mode is joined by two more, the decidedly Silicon Valley bro-esque “Chill” and the why-bother-to-name-it-in-the-first-place “Average”.

Screenshots posted by Harvard Fellow David Zipper on Twitter reveal “Average” mode as having a “medium follow distance” and states the car “may perform rolling stops.” The latter remains discouraged behaviour.

Chill mode, i.e. driving like a regular person rather than any kind of super-relaxed road user, will have “a larger follow distance and perform fewer speed lane changes.” and, politely, won’t make rolling stops.

While all these Full Self-Driving profiles were released within the October 2021 update, that was pulled after just a couple of days because there were issues with unexpected stopping and left turns at traffic lights. Hence it only really coming to light now.

Over the weekend, Tesla also announced it was raising the price of Full Self-Driving (which is Level 2 rather than Level 4 autonomous) from $10,000 to $12,000. That’s despite it still being in beta.

US transport safety regulators are often having to weigh-in on Tesla’s envelope-pushing autonomous features and it seems this might be another. Just last month Tesla voluntarily removed the ability for people to play games like Sonic while driving.

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