Tesla’s 8.1 software update brings Autopilot 2.0 cars up to speed

Tesla is releasing new 8.1 software out to vehicles, which includes updates to Autopilot for hardware that supports version 2.0 of the advanced driver assistance features. These late model cars are getting features that bring it basically up to parity with the original, first generation software, Electrek reports, which means a speed limit bump for Autosteer, a beta introduction of the Summon feature, and automatic lane changing while Autosteer is engaged.

The Autospeed speed limit boost in this update for Autopilot 2.0 cars is up to 80 mph, up from a hard cap of 55 before. It’ll automatically calibrate itself first, so you’ll still be limited to 55 for a few days of highway driving. The Summon feature, which lets users call their vehicles from parking spaces without anyone behind the wheel, is added as a beta as mentioned, and there’s the lane change feature, which allows you to just flick the turn signal on to have the car initiate a lane change while in Autosteer mode when the way is clear.

These features haven’t been available on Autopilot 2.0-capable vehicles, which employ brand new sensor and onboard computing hardware incorporated into existing vehicle designs by Tesla late last year. The new equipment means these cars will eventually be able to run in full autonomous driving mode, allowing the driver to sit back and relax while the vehicle takes them wherever they want to go.

That kind of feature is still a relatively distant vision – Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last year that he hopes to do a first cross-country test drive of a fully autonomous Tesla car by the end of 2017, and that means a broad release will follow some significant amount of time later. But in the meantime, Tesla has had to rebuild its existing autopilot features, too, focusing on re-engineering the software for its own in-house ‘Tesla Vision’ image processing.