Tesla has revealed details of its latest software update, version 8.0, which deals with safety elements of the car, alongside numerous other improvements.
A total of 200 improvements have been made to the cars' system, most notably including updates to Tesla’s Autopilot system, which has drawn criticism in recent months after a series of accidents that it was accused of being responsible for.
Tesla claims that its new system will reduce accidents in its vehicles by up to half. Tesla cars use a system which allows the cars to ‘look’ ahead using radar, and can respond to traffic two cars ahead. Tesla claims this will improve reaction time to incidents in which the car must brake heavily, which would previously have only been noticed when the car immediately in front applied its brakes.
The cars' ability to detect other vehicles at an angle when entering a curve in the road has also been improved.
The Autopilot system now disables automatic steering if the driver ignores safety warnings and keeps their hands off the wheel. The car's indication to the driver under Autopilot mode has also been tweaked, making it clearer.
Another improvement is a system which controls the car’s lane positioning when overtaking a slower-moving vehicle. For example, if a slow-moving car is positioned very close to the edge of its lane, the Tesla will now give more room when overtaking.
Another ongoing problem for Tesla has been cabin overheating. The new update has amended this with the introduction of the Cabin Overheat Protection system, which regulates the temperature of the interior – even when the car is switched off – to ensure that children or pets inside don’t suffer in a hot, unattended car. Tesla claims to be the first manufacturer in the industry to offer such a system.
Will Stewart, vice president of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), said: “The really significant thing here is that the car is being very substantially improved after you buy it. This is now normal for smartphones but new to cars - and this is a major change for the better. How much of a car (by value) can you download? Probably much more than you think and the proportion is rising fast.”
The update is being rolled out over-the-airwaves today in the US, before Teslas in the UK receive the update in the next few weeks.