Tesla moves towards greater autonomy with Autopilot rollout for HW2 cars

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Tesla will begin rolling out its Autopilot features for vehicles with second-generation in-car computing and sensing hardware on Monday, Elon Musk announced via Twitter. The new revision will be deployed a to small test group of 1,000 initial testers, as well as all other Tesla vehicles equipped with the new hardware. Initially the update will be in shadow mode for those beyond the test pool, and then be turned on for active use by the end of the week if all goes well.

The new Autopilot functionality for HW2 vehicles will return features like adaptive speed and auto steer, which were not included initially even though they’re available for HW1 vehicles, those with the previous on-board computer and sensor suite. Tesla didn’t enable all Autopilot features on HW2 vehicles initially because the new hardware required a complete overhaul of Autopilot and how it works, in order to prime the pump for ever-greater performance of the system going forward, with the aim of eventually achieving true autonomous driving capabilities on existing vehicles.

HW2 Autopilot is just a step along that path, however; these features will definitely make it easier for drivers to manage highway driving, but they won’t allow for an experience where a driver can truly stop paying attention to the road. In fact, recent updates to Autopilot are designed to ensure that drivers either pay attention or face consequences – the system will disengage after a driver ignores repeated alerts to put hands on the wheel, and will not be available again until the car is stopped and turned off.

Initially HW2 Autopilot will cap use of lateral steering control at 35 mph, Musk notes, until they gather more data from the full fleet. But HW1 vehicles will get improved Autopilot performance via the update, too, and Ludicrous+ mode will be enabled for compatible vehicles, allowing for insane acceleration of just 2.5 seconds for a 0-60 mph sprint with the P100D

Newer Tesla owners will certainly welcome the availability of the full Autopilot feature set, which should arrive next week beyond that initial 1,000 person test pool provided they encounter no issues with this revision of the software. A first beta of Autopilot for HW2 vehicle owners began rolling out last week to that first testing group.