Tesla Motors recently began rolling out an update to its semi-autonomous Autopilot system through an over-the-air software update, Electrek reports.
The new software, dubbed Autopilot 8.1, gives vehicles shipped by Tesla after October 2016 semi-autonomous features that were already available on older models. For context, these newer Tesla vehicles are equipped with sensor hardware that wasn't initially compatible with all of the Autopilot features.
Here are the new features that come with the Autopilot update:
- Summon mode. This feature allows cars to move in and out of a parking spot without a driver present. Summon mode is being introduced as a beta feature under the new hardware suite, and uses the company’s own “Tesla vision” image-processing system.
- Auto steering at speeds up to 80 mph. Previously, these vehicles could only use the auto-steer feature while the vehicle was traveling up to 55 mph. To use this feature, Tesla owners will need to calibrate the cameras on the vehicle, which the company says can take several days.
- Auto-lane changing. As the name suggests, this feature allows drivers to change lanes automatically, but the feature can be used only while the auto-steer feature is activated.
- Sketchpad touch-screen infotainment center, according to Fortune. The feature allows users to "draw" on the screen, save their creation, and publish it on a platform of their choice. Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently demonstrated that the drawings can be published on Twitter, for example.
The company remains on track to meet the goals Musk laid out last summer. In a blog post, Musk said the company planned to incrementally roll out autonomous features until the eventual rollout of full autonomy — which could happen as soon as this year. By bringing its newer cars up to par with the older ones, the automaker has taken another crucial step toward bringing full autonomy to its fleet of vehicles.
Further, Tesla still has more vehicles with semi-autonomous features than most other automakers. Only a few other automakers — notably, BMW, Infiniti, and Mercedes-Benz — have released vehicles with similar features. But BMW is the only other automaker to offer multiple vehicles with semi-autonomous capabilities in line with Tesla’s Autopilot.
The self-driving car is no longer a futuristic fantasy. Consumers can already buy vehicles that, within a few years time, will get software updates enabling them to hit the road without the need for a driver.
This autonomous revolution will upend the automotive sector and disrupt huge swaths of the economy, while radically improving energy efficiency and changing the way people approach transport around the world.
Automakers and tech companies are racing to develop the technology that will power self-driving cars in the coming years. That tech is advancing, but leaves observers with a bigger question: will consumers trust driverless car tech, and will they want to use autonomous cars?
Peter Newman, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on self-driving cars that analyzes the market, and forecasts vehicle shipments and market penetration. It also profiles the players expected to take on a prominent role in the autonomous future, examines the barriers to autonomous car development and adoption, and reviews developments in technology, regulation, and consumer sentiment. Finally, it analyzes the impact the introduction of autonomy will have on various industries and transport trends.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- Self-driving cars are coming; there will be fully autonomous cars on the roads in the US in 2018, and adoption will just take off from there.
- The technology is developing swiftly to allow fully self-driving vehicles, while the regulatory environment is adapting to the anticipated changes that this new technology will bring.
- We conducted a survey asking our exclusive BI Insiders panel about their thoughts on self-driving cars, the future of the automotive industry, and the impact autonomous vehicles will have on their purchasing habits moving forward. The results provide a picture of consumer sentiment at the precipice of the autonomous era.
In full, the report:
- Sizes the current and future self-driving car market, forecasting shipments and projecting installed base.
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