The future is here, most of it anyway. Tesla Version 7.0, the software update that was just broadcast on Wednesday, includes Tesla Autopilot. The new software includes everything needed to take advantage of all the cameras and actuators that have been installed in many Tesla Model S since October 2014.
The equipment includes a GPS system, forward radar and camera, and a dozen ultrasonic sensors, which Tesla Autopilot programming uses to determine where the vehicle is in relation to other vehicles and obstacles. Already at the top of its game, the Tesla Model S, now with Autopilot, adds even more value.
- Lane monitoring, lane keeping, and lane switching are all accomplished via electronically-controlled power steering, using feedback from the camera, radar, and ultrasonics.
- Adaptive cruise control modulates electric motor-generator output, regenerative braking, and electronically-controlled hydraulic braking, using feedback from traffic-aware GPS and the rest of the monitoring suite.
- Parallel parking is a breeze, the new system able to scan for appropriate space, then autonomously maneuver into position.
- Collision mitigation uses steering and braking to keep the Tesla Model S and occupants safe from front and side collisions.
- All data collected goes back to Tesla Motors, which helps the entire fleet learn from itself, regarding the thousands of interactions that each car makes with its surroundings. Tesla Motors, no doubt, will use this information in its next software updates, as well as its continuing work in autonomous driving algorithms.
Tesla Motors says that fully-autonomous vehicles are still years away, if not because of technology, at least because of legal issues. in the meantime, Tesla Model S drivers, even those equipped with the technology package and with the Tesla Version 7.0 software update, remain in full control of and responsibility for their vehicles.