Tesla's 8.0 software update addresses Autopilot shortcomings

The changes included in the update were prompted following the death in May of a driver whose Model S crashed into a truck's trailer on a Florida highway while in Autopilot mode.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/File
Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc., introduces the Model X car at the company's headquarters in Fremont, Calif., on Sept. 29, 2015. The company announced software upgrades for the vehicle Sunday.

Tesla [NSDQ:TSLA] on Sunday provided the first details on a software update that addresses some of the shortcomings of its semi-autonomous driving aid known as Autopilot. The company said the Version 8.0 update will be released in the next two weeks.

The changes included in the update were prompted following the death in May of a driver whose Model S crashed into a truck’s trailer on a Florida highway while in Autopilot mode. Autopilot’s first self-driving features were introduced in a Version 7.0 software update released in October 2015.

The latest version of Autopilot will prioritize data from onboard radar instead of cameras to help it sense the surrounding environment, including bouncing radar waves under a vehicle in front to see further ahead. Previously Autopilot prioritized camera data, with the radar serving as a supplementary sensor only, though this was insufficient in the case of the Florida crash due to the unique position of the trailer and sunlight reflecting off its white exterior.

The downside of radar is that it can inaccurately identify objects and obstacles, resulting in false alarms and potential unnecessary braking events. Tesla gives examples of the curved base of a soda can and overhead road signs. To improve accuracy, the system relies on cloud data gathered from other Autopilot users. It also takes multiple “snapshots” per second and compares this against vehicle velocity and expected path to determine whether an object ahead poses a threat.

It’s important to note that Autopilot remains in “public beta testing” and drivers are required to keep their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road ahead. The update sees the system warning the driver more frequently should they fail to pay attention. Ignoring of repeated warnings will disengage Autopilot and prevent its use until the car is parked.

In addition to these critical changes, Tesla says there are over 200 other, smaller ones as part of the Version 8.0 update. Autopilot is a $3,000 option on a new Model S and Model X, or $3,500 if enabled after the vehicle has been delivered. It’s only available on vehicles built after October 2014.

This story originally appeared on MotorAuthority.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Tesla's 8.0 software update addresses Autopilot shortcomings
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/In-Gear/2016/0912/Tesla-s-8.0-software-update-addresses-Autopilot-shortcomings
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe