Ever since Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk confirmed last October that every Tesla Model S luxury sedan made from that point onward would include the necessary hardware to one day enable semi-autonomous (or autopilot) functionality for customers via an over-the-air software update, the world has been watching and waiting to see what Tesla’s first steps into the world of robotic vehicles would be like.
The answer, it appears, is a confident if cautious rollout of autosteer and autopark functionality for a select group of Tesla owners.
As Hybridcars.com reports, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] has begun to send a public beta of its latest Model S operating system to a select group of Tesla Model S drivers around the world. Those drivers — who have all agreed to help Tesla test out the all-new operating system known as Version 7.0 — will be among the first car owners in history to own a car capable of driving itself safely along the freeway.
But while Tesla is now offering its beta testers autosteer and autopark functionality in their cars, the advent of autopilot features in the Model S isn’t quite as dramatic as some might have expected.
Instead, autosteer and autopark are just a few of the many new features to be offered in V7.0 — and for those using them, they’re more assistive rather than revolutionary right now.
For example, the autosteer functionality isn’t quite at a point where the driver can release their hands from the wheel do something else. While we suspect the reason for this is legislative reasons, Tesla warns beta testers in the release notes that they should still “hold the steering wheel and be mindful of road conditions and surrounding traffic while using Autosteer.”
Using a variety of sensors around the car, Tesla’s autosteer system is essentially an enhanced version of the Lane Keep Assist functionality found in many high-end premium cars. As well as keeping a safe distance from the car in front, the system automatically recognizes and responds to posted speed limits, and ensures that the car does not stray from the center of its lane.
Alongside activating Autosteer technology, Tesla’s new V7.0 system update also activates automated parallel parking technology, taking the pain out of parallel parking forever. In addition, V7.0 also enhances Tesla’s side collision detection system, replacing the blind spot warning system from the previous public release with a more sophisticated detection system which can detect objects 360 degrees around the vehicle.
In addition to the new driver assistance features, V7.o also comes with a variety of new enhancements to other aspects of both vehicle behavior and the car’s on-board touch screen display system.
These include an improved Hill Start Assist — now renamed to ‘Hill Hold’ — as well as tweaks to the car’s climate control system and motor management system to improve overall efficiency. There’s also an all-new energy monitor system and brand-new apps for the Model S, allowing customers more control than ever before over how information about their car and their trips are displayed.
For those who like to keep a track of time, there’s also a new clock app, bringing a large, analogue-style, easily-read clock to the Model S for the first time.
There’s no news when Tesla will make the update available to all customers, but given the Model X is due to start deliveries on Tuesday next week — and it is said to include some of those same features at launch — we’re guessing it won’t be long before everyone benefits from Tesla’s latest update to its legendary car.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.