Earlier this week Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to twitter announcing a new software update for the Model S will come bundled with an autopilot feature for highway cruising. Previously, Tesla worked with a couple hundred early adopters, but come October 15th, everyone will be able to enjoy the spoils. The v7.0 autopilot features include auto-steering, lane change activated by the turn signal and auto-parking in parallel spaces.
Besides autopilot, v7.0 also comes with improved climate control, improved efficiency and performance for RWD Model S’s, as well as new and improved “hill start assist”, electrek reports.
Tesla has been preparing for this feature for some time now, having rolled out autopilot enabled hardware which includes forward-looking camera, radar, and 360 degree sonar sensors for every Model S shipped since late 2014. Using smart software and these sensing systems, the Model S (when enabled with the tech package) can read speed signs, recognize animals and objects in front of the car, can recognize lanes and lane changes, and can see far better than a human can through fog, rain and dust storms.
Some exciting news this week: Tesla Version 7 software with Autopilot goes to wide release on Thursday!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 11, 2015
Now, Model S drivers can sit back and relax while the car does all the boring work on the highway. The autopilot isn’t completely automated, though. The driver still has to choose when to switch lanes (yes, the car does it for you), and when ‘Autopilot’ software doesn’t have enough data to properly steer the car, it will alert you to either “hold the steering-wheel” or “take control immediately”. Something as simple as a faded road line or the sun glaring on the road can cause this alert to popup. This may sound a bit scary, but it shouldn’t be – not if you doze off that is.
Right now, the Model S has the most advanced autonomous drive features out of any commercial offering. At the same time, the Model S isn’t a self-driving vehicle with a bunch of redundant autonomous features. Rather, it’s an evolutionary step toward self-driving.
Image credit: Tesla