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First look at Tesla’s new maps and navigation engine

Last month, we reported that Tesla is working on revamping its maps and navigation system with its own maps using new open source modules from MapBox and Valhalla.

While the new feature is not available in most Tesla vehicles, we get our first good look at the new ‘Tesla Maps’ system thanks to a resourceful Model S owner.

The updated maps and navigation are currently only available in Model S and Model X in Taiwan, where the automaker had yet to release any navigation service, and in the few Model 3 vehicles delivered so far in the US.

But now a Tesla hacker known as ‘Green’, who previously showed us the Autopilot debugging mode, managed to run the new maps and navigation engine on his Model S and sent us a few details, screenshots, and video of the new system ahead of the fleetwide launch.

One of the most important changes is arguably the more recent maps.

Tesla vehicles in North America are using Navigon’s Q4 2015 maps, but the new modules are using 3 maps versions all dating from February to July 2017. That alone will be a welcomed change for Tesla owners.

The company also updated the UI of the maps and navigation. Green shared a few screenshots:

Whether or not the new UI is better is up for the debate. As you can see, the most significant changes are in the renderings on the instrument cluster.

The new images are more from a bird’s-eye view and less angled than the current version.

Tesla also added more visible street names for the streets on a route that is being navigated. They also got rid of the large cards representing the exits or lane change that take over the area of the screen when an action is required on a route.

Instead, they kept the similar pop-up window at the bottom with a representation of the lanes. They also got rid of the distance indicator that was on that window.

As for the actual new routing system, Green notes that the routes are very close to what Google suggests. He found a few routes that were slower and less optimal than the ones suggested by Google, but more testing would likely be required before declaring a winner.

Green also created a video comparing both Tesla’s current system and the upcoming new one on the same routes:

Of course, the system could still be updated by the time Tesla releases it fleetwide. It’s not clear when that will happen, but Green sees indications that it could be pushed to the fleet soon – potentially with the upcoming 8.2 software update.

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