Elon Musk Says Tesla Autopilot 8.1 Is "About Three Weeks" Away

Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian

Elon Musk finally answered the question on so many Tesla owner’s lips: when will the semi-autonomous Autopilot 8.1 software update be released? It turns out they won’t have long to wait: the Tesla CEO said it’s all coming in about three weeks, when the new OS will start rolling out incrementally in monthly releases.

Back in October, Elon Musk let the world in on a secret: All future Tesla cars (including the model 3) will be equipped with self-driving hardware, that Musk hopes will eventually give the vehicles a safety rating substantially higher than that of a human driver. In order to achieve the top-notch safety rating, while enhancing owner experiences, the car manufacturer relies heavily on software, which powers the user’s interface.

While traditional cars have static features, Teslas continuously add new functionality and enhancements throughout the life of the car, much like your smartphone. Just like system updates on your phone, Tesla updates are rolled out to customers in increments.

The current version of the software debuted roughly two months ago, and despite the company’s claim that it is “the biggest update since the introduction of the Model S”, the 8.0 OS has not gone over well with the masses. Users have reported missing features as well as bugs and connectivity issues.

Musk previously announced that the vehicle’s next software update would be available in December. However, one anxious owner tweeted the CEO in hopes of narrowing down the time frame.

The new software update coincides with the release of an Enhanced Autopilot feature which will allow vehicles to achieve the top-rated Level 5 autonomy — a rating that deems it safer than vehicles operated by human drivers. By dramatically increasing the on board computer’s processing power — and thanks to 8 cameras and a slew of ultrasonic sensors — the update will allow the vehicle to drive completely on its own.

With the rollout of Version 8.1, the Autosteer capabilities will even provide the ability for any equipped vehicle to exit off freeways on its own — a major step towards a fully autonomous vehicle. Musk predicts we could see an Autopiloted Tesla travel cross-country by the end of 2017.

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