Tesla’s software upgrade makes the Model S semi-autonomous
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and Space X, must be a little confused; less than a year ago, he was warning about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but in a subsequent breath he seems to be moving his flagship Tesla Model S very firmly into the realms of autonomous mobility, which of course are also known as self-driving cars. “In the distant future, legislators may outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous,” Musk said on stage at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference, following the introduction of Nvidia’s Drive PX self-driving car computer. “We’ll take autonomous cars for granted in quite a short time.”
Musk believes that eventually we will all see it his way and will rush to embrace the safety and efficiency gains of the brave new world that he envisions. “I think it’s going to become normal, like an elevator,” said Musk. “There used to be elevator operators and then we came up with circuitry so the elevator knew to come to your floor. Cars will be like that.”
To be fair, Musk does not see us all getting into our self-driving cars within the next couple of decades and believes that the transition will be a gradual affair, but Tesla has also announced that there is to be a significant software upgrade for Model S vehicles that will contain some autonomous drive features.
The upgrade is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of this year and will include a highway autopilot mode and a summons mode, a feature that allows the vehicle to drive itself from a parking spot or garage to pick the owner up; but this will only work on private property as driverless cars are still not legal on public roads.
One upgrade for the Model S that is already available is the new navigation upgrades that are supposed to reduce range anxiety. The new feature will allow for the vehicle to constantly communicate with the ever-expanding Tesla supercharger network, letting drivers know which stations are busy or full as well as alerting them when they reach the point of no return and cannot make it back to a recharging station, although we would have thought that alerting the driver before the point of no return may be more sensible.