Tesla has started pushing a new software update for Autopilot with new speed adjustments, stop sign warnings, and more.
There are a lot of eyes on Autopilot improvements since Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the automaker will push a “feature complete” version of its full self-driving (at least to its early access owners) by the end of the year, which is just a few weeks away.
Tesla appears to be still quite far from that, but new updates are introducing some good improvements.
In a new update (2019.40.2) this week, Tesla is pushing several new Autopilot features and improvements, including a new way to adjust speed on Autopilot based on the speed of an adjacent lane.
When your vehicle is moving at a significantly faster speed than vehicles in neighboring lanes, Autopilot now automatically reduces your driving speed. This is helpful in heavy traffic situations or when there is a long line of vehicles merging into a different lane or exiting onto an off-ramp. When your vehicle detects that adjacent lane traffic is significantly slower, the lane is highlighted with arrows and its vehicles are highlighted gray in the driving visualization. This speed adjustment can be temporarily overridden by pressing the accelerator pedal.
The new update also includes “Automatic lane change improvements”:
Automatic lane changes have been tuned to make lane changes with more confidence. When the adjacent lane is detected to be open, automatic lane changes will initiate faster and be more assertive.
Finally, Tesla is also introducing “Autosteer stop sign warning”:
Your car may warn you in some cases if it detects that you are about to run a stop sign, in addition to stop lights, while Autosteer is in use. This is not a substitute for an attentive driver and will not stop the car.
This is an early feature that will lead to Tesla’s goal to have Autopilot work for city driving.
Autopilot is currently meant for highway driving, and the new Smart Summon handles low-speed driving in parking.
When Musk talks about a “feature complete” version of its full self-driving, he is talking about closing the gap between the two features with city driving capability.
However, Tesla plans to still require drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and be ready to take control at all times.
Musk believes that it will take another year to take the driver out of the equation, and even then, it will depend on regulatory approval per market.
This new 2019.40.2 update is being pushed gradually to Tesla’s fleet and may take days or even weeks to get to the entire fleet.
Furthermore, different car models could get different features.
This is an exciting update that makes a lot of sense on paper, but it will depend on how it works in practice.
Tesla certainly had room to improve on the “assertiveness” of auto lane changes. Improvements on that front would be welcome, but I’d like to see the difference.
If you do get the update, I’d like to get some feedback.
As for the adjacent speed adjustment, that’s a great idea since human drivers do that. It is dangerous to pass at full speed in almost stopped traffic.
But I’d like to see how this will affect HOV lane driving and things like that.
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