Tesla Motors released a groundbreaking over-the-air update last week. Along with a couple of nice visual enhancements, Tesla has added an Autopilot mode for owners of the Model S and Model X.
These are some of the new features in the latest software update version 7.0...
The update brings several improvements to the visual display of the Model S and X. There are new instrument panels and app windows are larger. These look a lot better on the 17-inch touchscreen as they fill up the display even more.
More car information is now available while driving and drivers will be able to lock and unlock their cars from the status bar. Also included is a new clock.
But the best feature of them all is perhaps Autopilot. With Autopilot turned on drivers can technically take their hands completely off the wheel. But Tesla advises at least touching the steering wheel with the tips of your fingers while being driven.
Some recommended hand positions while in Autopilot include resting them on your knees, palms up, and fingertips touching the wheel. If you go completely handsfree, your car will politely give you a message asking you to touch the wheel in some capacity.
When you take the wheel in your hands again, autopilot automatically turns off. These features may make it look like the wheel has some sort of touch functionality but it doesn't. The way it works is by measuring torque, so any little movements made to the wheel are sensed.
Although going completely autonomous is probably still a few years away, Tesla's latest software update is a big step towards that goal. Of course, you can't fall asleep at the wheel while being autopiloted around town quite yet, but that is probably one for the future.
Interestingly, some states like New York require you to have at least one hand on the wheel at all times when driving. So merely touching the wheel with your fingertips may be illegal. Laws in many states will need amendment as self-driving cars start hitting the roads.
You can read a more detailed account of the latest update on Wired. Tesla has also published a blog post with more information.
Source: Wired & Tesla Motors