Electric car maker Tesla announced that they will be updating their Autopilot software. Tesla car owners for models delivered after October 2014 can download the updates within two weeks.
The version 8 of their Autopilot software focuses on the radar of the sensor system and not just cameras. According to Forbes, Tesla’s advances in the radar technology and the information gathered by other Tesla vehicles will enable them to build a 3D of the world so the Autopilot system can distinguish the usual street objects from the unexpected obstacles.
The effect of the update as Tesla CEO Elon Musk puts it, “the car should almost always hit the brakes correctly even if a UFO were to land on the freeway in zero visibility conditions.” Musk further added that the update will enable the Tesla car to bounce the radar signal under a vehicle in front and still brake from an unseen obstacle.
The upgrade was probably prompted after a fatal Tesla car crash in Florida occurred May 7 this year. The car involved was in Autopilot mode and was over the speed limit by about 10 miles. According to reports published in Los Angeles Times, the crash killed Joshua Brown, a 40 year old Ohio resident.
The 2015 Tesla Model S struck a 53-foot-trailer when the Autopilot failed to detect it because of poor weather and low luminosity. It was the first fatal crash involving a driverless system and prompted an investigation by the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration on all Tesla vehicles equipped with any version of the Autopilot system.
The new update will help prevent accidents similar to the nature of the fatal crash of Joshua Brown. Elon Musk explained, “We’re making much more effective use of radar, we weren’t confident that we could resolve false positives where the radar would think that it should brake, but it shouldn’t.”
The new system which was developed over the past four months should now be able to detect anything that is metallic, large, and dense; the vehicle should be able to activate its brake. “It should work for something like a moose, because a moose is quite a big mass, but it may not work for something like a small deer,” Elon Musk said.
Regardless of the update, the Tesla head is not promising one hundred percent safety, “Perfect safety is really an impossible goal, it’s about improving the probability of safety. There won’t ever be zero fatalities, there won’t ever be zero injuries.” Musk said.
The 8.0 upgrade will also include an improved Autosteering and a new safety mechanism that will disable the Autopilot system if the driver disengages his hands from the steering wheel.
The NHTSA seems happy about the update according to Musk but he did not elaborate further regarding the pending investigation from the previous crash.
What do you think of the new Tesla Autopilot upgrade, will you feel comfortable riding in autopilot mode? Feel free to write in the comment section below.