Since our original report on the beta version of Tesla’s 8.0 software update 2 months ago, the automaker has been improving on the system and has released several new versions for external beta testing. Last week, CEO Elon Musk said that the update was going to final review and added that “the amount of work [for Autopilot] that has been going into version 8.0 will be very noticeable”.
We’ve already discussed the new automatic off-ramp feature, but now Electrek has learned that the new version, building on the off-ramp feature, will be able to handle highway interchanges without disengaging the Autopilot…
That means that with v8.0, Autopilot will be able to automatically (always under the driver’s supervision) drive from one highway to another with the simple activation of the turn signal.
When the Autosteer feature of the Autopilot is engaged, the driver will be able to activate the turn signal to exit the freeway and Autosteer will follow the interchange into the next highway.
Ever since launching the first (and current) generation of the Autopilot, Musk said that the hardware combined with gradually improving software should allow for ramp-to-ramp autonomous driving on highways as always with constant monitoring by the driver.
Version 8.0 with the new off-ramp and highway interchange features bring the Autopilot closer to this vision than ever before. Under normal to ideal conditions, Autopilot is theoretically able to handle ramp-to-ramp highway driving with the v8.0 update.
Tesla has been building high precision maps of the interchanges through its fleet of vehicles and now when approaching the roads, the system will download the map tiles and the front-facing camera and radar will monitor the lanes and traffic to make sure the way is clear.
As discussed in our piece about the new Autopilot safety restrictions yesterday, Tesla is also introducing significant improvements to the overall performance of the Autopilot with v8.0. The new version also features more responsive Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer for a smoother experience in traffic.
While there might be still room for some refining of the system through software updates after v8.0, the Autopilot would seem to be approaching hardware limitations. Autopilot 2.0, a new sensor suite, will likely be required to enable any new significant feature in the Autopilot program.
Again, Musk said last week that Tesla’s software v8.0 is going to ‘final review’. We expect the wide release to be imminent.