Tesla Motors is at it again by pushing the energy-efficient, all-electric envelope even further. After breaking records, building solar farms, and remapping the global auto industry, the company still has plenty in store. Primarily because the company has been teasing consumers with its 8.1 update for several months now, heightening anticipation with each passing day.

The 8.1 update will feature an advanced hardware 2 platform dedicated to delivering fully autonomous driving to consumers — a goal that the company has been determined to achieve by the end of 2017. Several updates that were expected to be in 8.1, like improvements to Autopilot 2.0, were actually released as enhancements to the 8.0 software. Additional updates expected include: a new Linux kernel upgrade to Tesla's operating system, AI improvements like Autosteer beta version, forward collision warning, and traffic-aware cruise control.

Will Autonomous Driving Save Lives?

Autonomous vehicles have been met with limited acceptance in society for a few reasons, mostly to do with autopilot technology. Most people understand that autonomous vehicles mark an important milestone in recent human history in terms of technological advancement, but people are still concerned about safety when it comes to getting behind an autonomous vehicle — let alone buying one.

But the data is quite clear: autonomous vehicles can actually save lives. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safet Administration (NHTSA) estimated that in 2014, over 32,675 people died in car crashes, costing the government almost $400 billion (2% of our national GDP). The analysis shows that 90% of these crashes were directly caused by "driver error."  If 100% of vehicles on the road were autonomous, it's predicted that fatalities would decrease from 95 to 99.99%. Another benefit with an intelligent autopilot is that it would accelerate and brake the vehicle efficiently, gradually reducing a vehicle's environmental impact.

Tesla's plan to implement fully autonomous driving by 2017 is ambitious, but it may be possible with the update to 8.1 — all while saving lives and the environment.

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