While not fully self-driving, the new software update means that the Model S and new Model X can automatically steer down the road, switch lanes, perform automatic parking, and facilitate a traffic-aware cruise control.
Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk said that the Autopilot feature was designed to increase driver confidence on the road.
Autopilot, the latest features of Tesla’s new Version 7.0 software upgrade, is basically a suite of semi-autonomous tech that consists of forward-looking cameras, GPS (Global Positioning Satellite System), forward radars, and ultrasonic sensors. Tesla's new Autopilot features represent the only fully integrated autopilot system in the market. The new software features will allow automatic parallel parking, automated lane switching, line guidance to keep the car within its lane, digital control of motors and brakes, radar-guided cruise control that can bring the car to a complete stop, and even the ability for the vehicle to scan a lot for an available parking space.
In October of last year, Tesla started equipping its Model S with hardware and sensors, which include forward radar, a forward-looking camera, 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors, and a high-precision digitally-controlled electric assist braking system. This week's new software update allows those technologies and sensors to deliver a range of new active safety and convenience features. The result is a Model S vehicle that is capable of performing some incredible new car tricks.
Owners of Tesla’s Model S will now able to relax at the wheel after their cars receive an over-the-air software update that allow the automated driving capabilities. But not all owners of Tesla Model S sedans, which start at $70,000, will benefit from this Version 7.0 software update. Only cars built from late September of 2014 forward will, which is about 60,000 of the 90,000 Model S on the road to date. These newer vehicles have the requisite sensors pre-installed for Tesla’s new Version 7.0 software update, which Tesla said could cost around $2,500 to activate.
According to CEO Elon Musk, Tesla could have the technology for fully automated driving ready within three years. He goes on to emphasize that cars will need much more technological muscle and hardware than the Model S is currently packing. Tesla announced that it has big plans for the future of its Model S, including the ability to summon a car to driver’s location through a mobile device.
Image by: Tesla Motors