The Tesla Model S Will Get “Autopilot” Mode In About Three Months

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While the main focus of today’s Tesla press call was the software update meant to end range anxiety“, Elon also dropped a few details on other things they’re working on right now for release in the coming months… and, well, they’re pretty damned cool. Self-steering cars, anyone?

This next update — the “range anxiety” update, or Version 6.2, includes a few neat tricks of its own:

– Automatic emergency braking, which will attempt to automatically halt the car when it detects that you’re about to slam into something else. It’ll be a part of all Tesla cars moving forward, and will be added to all existing Teslas made after October of last year.
– Blind spot warnings, side collision warning
– “Valet mode” that reduces the car’s insane performance and locks down the center console’s touchscreen to hide private data.

The big one, though, is Version 7.0 — that’s when Tesla will be rolling out the first bits of its autopiloting, self-driving system.

Elon Musk noted that Version 7 will have a “complete UI overhaul”.

“It’ll kind of need one,” Musk slyly notes “because of the way the car will interact with you in the future.”

Here’s what Musk had to say about the self-steering functionality:

“We’re pretty excited about the progress we’re making there. The main test route that we’re evaluating is the San Francisco to Seattle route, and we’re now almost able to travel all the way from San Francisco to Seattle without the driver touching any controls at all.

That’s a feature that requires a lot of validation testing, but we’re hoping that we can start releasing the first sort of auto-steering features in about three months or so.

One thing to note: even once the Model S’ autopilot mode is in place, it’ll only work on highways. Why? Because between traffic laws that vary from stoplight to stoplight and pedestrians that love to hop into the road without much notice, city roads and neighborhoods are a whole different beast to handle.

The Model S’ self-steering will also allow you to effectively “summon” the vehicle. Push a button, and it’ll leave wherever you’ve parked it and find its way to you. Musk notes that this should only be done on private property, as it’s “not legal on public roads”.

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