In Brief
  • Tesla has pushed its enhanced autopilot system to the first 1,000 cars in its fleet, equipping them with traffic aware cruise control, forward collision warning, and an autosteer beta.
  • The update is another step on the path to vehicles capable of fully autonomous driving, though experts predict we still have some time to wait until those hit our roads.

Enhanced Autopilot

While Faraday Future os unveiling its FF91 autonomous car, Tesla is busy rolling out an update to its autopilot system. Last Saturday, CEO Elon Musk confirmed that a select number of cars have been updated with this futuristic, enhanced version of the company’s autopilot system. It marks the next step on the path to fully autonomous driving capabilities, which Tesla plans to have ready by the end of 2017.

The enhanced autopilot system has been pushed to the first 1,000 cars in Tesla’s fleet, and it includes a traffic aware cruise control feature, forward collision warning, and an autosteer beta version that’s enabled only at “low speed.” The update was designed for Tesla vehicles running on the advanced Hardware 2 platform, a new system of cameras and computers launched last October that is intended to support fully autonomous driving through a future software update.

“We’ve designed these new Autopilot features to give you more confidence behind the wheel, increase your safety on the road, and make driving in traffic less frustrating,” according to the notes from Tesla that accompanied the update’s release.

Cautiously Optimistic

Experts claim we’re still far from seeing fully autonomous cars on the roads, and Tesla seems aware of this. In the update’s release notes, the company makes it clear that they won’t be rushing to integrate these new features, instead taking a “measured and cautious” approach to their rollout. The company plans to analyze several hundred million miles of real-world usage to improve the system, addressing issues as they arise and improving confidence in the system.

Telsa urges early users of this new system to remain in constant control of their vehicles while taking advantage of the driver assistance features it provides. This caution is very appropriate as most new technologies can and should be approached with a fair amount of skepticism.

It does seem like Tesla is on the right track with this update, though, as initial tests in real-life scenarios have yielded promising results. In fact, just last month, a video of Tesla’s autopilot system accurately predicting a crash went viral on the internet — a testament to the company’s enhanced software capabilities and the public’s interest in them.