It’s been a couple of months since Tesla first announced that new Model S and Model X vehicles coming off the production line, as well as the future Model 3, are equipped with hardware capable of driving completely on its own without human input.
Tesla vehicles with the new “hardware 2” have a 360-degree view of their surroundings through the use of eight cameras, advanced ultrasonic sensors and forty times more processing power than before. However, Autopilot, known as ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ under the new hardware, has been disabled on these vehicles as Tesla worked on collecting driving data in ‘Shadow Mode’, pitting the human driver’s response against a theoretical response from the vehicle’s Autopilot algorithm.
@edwardsanchez about three weeks and it will get rolled out incrementally in monthly releases
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 27, 2016
Now comes word via a tweet from chief Elon Musk that the company is ready to release the first iteration of its Enhanced Autopilot feature in mid-December. The newest Autopilot under version 8.1 is said to have the ability to automatically take highway exits using the onboard Navigation feature. Presumably, if a driver enters a destination address into Nav, the vehicle will be able to Autosteer and exit freeways on its own, when applicable.
According to Tesla’s description of Enhanced Autopilot, the feature will also allow a vehicle to “match speed to traffic conditions, keep within a lane, automatically change lanes without requiring driver input, transition from one freeway to another, exit the freeway when your destination is near, self-park when near a parking spot and be summoned to and from your garage”. Not all of the features will be available at once and will be “rolled out incrementally in monthly releases”, according to Musk.
Version 8.1 and subsequent over-the-air software updates to Enhanced Autopilot will act as a primer to the company’s ultimate goal of releasing a fully autonomous system by the end of 2017.