The much awaited Autopilot 8.1 software that will eventually pulse through the veins of Tesla Motors EV line up has just dropped to 1,000 cars over the weekend.
According to a tweet from CEO Elon Musk, the Autopilot HW2 bug was fixed a day earlier, and on Saturday the update was uploaded to the first batch of cars. Musk added that if no “field issues” were found the update would be pushed to all other users next week.
The hardware package upgrade that Tesla made standard this October included a more powerful computer, more cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radars. Only these cars will be getting Autopilot 8.1.
Many Tesla customers were disappointed that even with the hardware upgrades they weren’t given access to some Autopilot features like Lane Guidance and Automatic Emergency Braking. At the time, Musk said that the system had to be tested further and validated before it could be rolled out, and it looks like that time has now arrived.
After cleaning up the final bits and bugs, Autopilot 8.1 is now on the cusp of a worldwide update to all vehicles that have the hardware upgrade.
But all’s not well with Autopilot because even with the Autopilot 8.1 release, not every feature will be made available. Some will have restrictions: for example, the Autosteer function will only work at low speeds on clearly marked highways. The limitation is because Tesla now has to integrate their own imaging systems with Autopilot after they split with Mobileye.
What remains now is for Tesla to rollout fully autonomy that the hardware-upgraded cars are truly capable of. That’s not happened with Autopilot 8.1 even though the capability is definitely there. However, Musk is confident that before the end of 2017, Tesla will complete a demo of a fully autonomous coast-to-coast journey.
With several major carmakers announcing their EV and autonomous vehicle plans for 2018 and beyond, Tesla effectively has a one-year windows to increase their lead as much as possible on both fronts. On the EV side of things they’ve got a significant lead, not only in market share but also brand value and international exposure, but on the autonomous driving side of things they’ve got some tough competition in the making.
With the Autopilot 8.1 update, Tesla has prepared the battle field for fully autonomous driving technology, and we could well see it in action before the year is out.
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