On Wednesday, Elon Musk announced via Twitter that Tesla’s Autopilot is about to get some “major improvements.”
The current version, Autopilot 7.0, will make way for 8.0 and 8.1. While it won’t be the next, fully autonomous generation of Autopilot, it will make the electric vehicles that much safer and hands-free.
Musk says he’s working on a post that explains the update in full, which will go live on Tesla’s website “later today.” (In Musk parlance, “later today” could mean 11 p.m. tomorrow.) A few drivers have already experienced the upgrade as a sort of beta-beta, and one such “major improvement” is that Teslas will be able to exit highways autonomously. As is already the case with lane changes, the driver must merely flick his or her turning signal to tell the car that he or she would like to exit. The car does the rest. That may not seem “major,” but imagine being a computer and trying to decipher an off-ramp.
According to Musk, the upgrades are all software changes, so they’ll “go to wide release in a few weeks,” in a standard over the air update (transmitted directly into Tesla’s computers).
The update will leverage “advanced processing of radar signals” to improve Autopilot’s functionality in general. Without radar, Tesla cars wouldn’t be able to “see” their surroundings. Without radar processing, Tesla cars wouldn’t be able to understand their surroundings. Advanced radar processing, which we will learn more about “later today,” will make Teslas more intelligent with respect to what’s around them at all times.