Tesla starts Autopilot upgrades tonight

Tesla owners may wake up tomorrow with a little more than lingering dreams.

Tesla Motors is releasing a new version of Autopilot overnight, adding features the company says will make it safer and more reliable. Investigators are probing what role the self-driving system played in a pair of fatal crashes in Florida and China.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that Autopilot 8.0 would start downloading to customers Wednesday night. He called it a major overhaul.

“Release will be gradual to make sure there aren’t small regressions. Many car configs, many environments,” Musk posted on social media.

The electric vehicle maker announced changes to Autopilot last week. It will become more dependent on front radar instead of cameras. The driver assist package also includes sensors around the vehicle.

The federal government on Tuesday released sweeping new guidelines for self-driving vehicles. The regulations are designed to strike a balance between innovation and consumer safety.  ”We’re determined to help the private sector get this technology right from the start,” President Barack Obama wrote in a op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Critics still say Tesla will need more than tweaks to its system.

In an interview, Alex Lidow, CEO of chipmaker EPC, said Tesla’s reliance on radar is not enough. Lidow said lidar systems, using lasers sensors, are more reliable. Google and other companies researching self-driving vehicles use lidar, and chips made by EPC are used in these systems.

A lidar system costs more than radar, although Lidow said prices would drop as the market grows. Lidar images are clearer than radar in most circumstances and can be processed faster. “You have an unambiguous, hard image,” he said.

Lidow said Tesla has staked a forward claim in the self-driving market. “They’re bold. They’re aggressive,” he said. “The challenge will be to keep people from killing themselves.”

Musk hinted at other new features, including a temperature control gauge. Tesla vehicles with Autopilot will automatically kick on the air conditioning when the cabin reaches 105 degrees, Musk said.

The auto-cool is designed to prevent hot-weather accidents that can cause young children and pets to over-heat.

Photo: The inside of a Tesla vehicle is viewed as it sits parked in a new Tesla showroom and service center in Red Hook, Brooklyn on July 5, 2016 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

 

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  • YeahRightPal

    “Auto-Cool”, huh? AC that turns on by itself? Should do wonders for the driving range.

 
 
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