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Tesla to Release a Software Update to Make Electric Car Autopilot Feature Safer

Sep 13, 2016 05:35 AM EDT
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Electric carmaker Tesla is expected to release a new software update to make the self-driving feature accident-proof.

Elon Musk's electric car company Tesla has had its share of fame this year. Earlier in 2016, the company announced the release of its latest car, the Tesla Model 3. However, recent accidents involving the autonomous feature of Tesla electric cars dampened the fame of their most coveted vehicle. This prompted CEO Elon Musk to prepare and release an update to make his electric cars safer. Tesla users can expect to receive the version 8.0 update with an enhanced autopilot system. The update is primarily focused on using radar to detect any obstacles surrounding the cars.

"The most significant upgrade to Autopilot will be the use of more advanced signal processing to create a picture of the world using the onboard radar," a Tesla official said in a blog post.

Last May, a driver was killed in a fatal Tesla crash putting Tesla's autopilot feature into the spotlight. Founder Elon Musk was forced to stand behind the features of his electric cars. "This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a press release. "Worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles," Musk added.

This incident also prompted the electric car company to improve on its autonomous self-driving feature. A built in and onboard radar will help Tesla cars detect obstacles in the surroundings to make it safer.

Musk believes that the radar update will help drivers to identify potential dangers while driving.

"After careful consideration, we now believe it can be used as a primary control sensor without requiring the camera to confirm visual image recognition," Elon Musk, Tesla CEO said in a statement.

The update will also make sure that self-driving does not literally translate to driverless, this means the driver of the vehicle, despite having activated the self-driving mode, is still required to pay attention. The "autosteer" feature will also receive an update. For example, the driver will be required to hold the stirring wheel even when the autopilot feature is activated. If the driver fails to do so, the vehicle will issue a warning. The car should be parked first before the driver can use the feature again.

The autopilot update is expected to cut accidents by 50 percent and will provide three times more safety improvement on the existing system. According to Musk, the radar system onboard Tesla cars will be the primary technology running the autopilot system and not the cameras onboard.

 

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