Tesla to have "major" vehicle revisions every 12-18 months

Posted January 26, 2017

This update brings some features, such as autosteer and autopark, which are already available in Hardware 1 cars, to the HW2 cars. But at that point, numerous more basic autonomous driving features-like automatic emergency braking and lane guidance-had not yet been activated.

When Tesla started producing and delivering cars equipped with its second-generation Autopilot hardware, many common features were deactivated. The Autosteer+ function, which works in tandem with Traffic Aware Cruise Control to automatically keep vehicles in their lanes during heavy traffic, will at first be limited to use at speeds below 45 miles per hour as the system collects more data. Over the weekend, Elon Musk advised owners to "be cautious" when trying out the new HW2 Autopilot features.

Using eight cameras, Tesla says the new Autopilot hardware can not be retrofitted to older vehicles. The tech behind Autopilot is sophisticated, and appeals to much of the same crowd that was first wowed by Apple's iPhone.

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The move "completely makes sense", said Jeffrey Miller, IEEE member and associate professor of engineering at the University of Southern California.

The schedule indicates that the automaker is expecting to release major updates to its vehicles every 12-18 months, according to MarketWatch.

Musk also stated: "Autopilot for HW2 rolling out to all HW2 cars today (21 January). It is ever improving, and that growing capability is a big driver of enthusiasm for the brand". While some are doing over-the-air updates, "they're just starting", he said, "and they're talking about their multimedia head unit". But Tesla is behind schedule because it doesn't want to introduce Autopilot software that isn't ready. "They don't have the systems in place, and the platforms of their vehicles are not created to do it". "It is an absolutely software-based vehicle".

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The idea is that while its cars will be more capable in the future, they aren't quite there yet.

That is, unless you're asking Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk.

The newest Autopilot update will apply to "second generation" or "HW2" vehicles that were made after October 19, 2016. Though as yet there are no national laws regulating autonomous vehicles the U.S. Department of Transportation previous year set basic guidelines for their development and testing, adopting SAE definitions of varying levels of autonomy in the process.

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The pace of updates highlights Tesla's unique position in the auto world, with its emphasis on software. That code ran in what Tesla calls Shadow Mode, collecting data and comparing the human driver's actions to what the computer would have done.