If you take delivery of a Tesla Model S or X today with the automaker’s brand-new “self-driving-ready hardware”, it actually can’t drive itself just yet since Tesla is still working on the software, but it also doesn’t even have driver assist features on par with Tesla’s first generation of Autopilot.
That’s because Tesla is working on the new generation using its own ‘Tesla Vision’ image processing architecture, the company is rebuilding the features based on the new systems. New owners are quite impatient to try the new promised features of Tesla’s ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ and CEO Elon Musk has now clarified the expected rollout of those features.
While Tesla doesn’t expect the full level 5 autonomous driving to be ready until the end of next year, there are still several new features that Tesla can implement and improve on with the new hardware and Tesla Vision.
Those features fall under what the company is calling ‘Enhanced Autopilot’.
Musk confirmed that the first version of it is expected to come with version 8.1 of Tesla’s operating system through an over-the-air update in “about three weeks”:
Though it sounds like the features will not be all available at once, but released incrementally with monthly updates.
Tesla describes the new capabilities of the Autopilot:
“Enhanced Autopilot adds these new capabilities to the Tesla Autopilot driving experience. Your Tesla will 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.”
A version of the ‘On-ramp to Off-ramp’ capability is also expected to be available on the first generation Autopilot vehicles with version 8.1 – meaning that the two generations should remain fairly similar after the update.
But the difference will become greater starting from there with what Musk is referring to as “monthly releases”.
The ‘Autosteer’ feature on the second generation Autopilot vehicle will become ‘Autosteer+’ and should be more efficient at automatically steering the vehicle with now 3 front-facing cameras instead of one.
‘Summon’ will become ‘Smart Summon’ and it will enable driverless driving in more complex situations than the current version, which is limited to forward and reverse driving with only slight course adjustments.
Of course, Tesla aims for all those incremental improvements to eventually lead to fully self-driving capability that could become available at the end of 2017 – pending regulatory approval.
We explain in more details Tesla’s expected software rollout timeline for self-driving here: Tesla’s software timeline for ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ transition means ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ as early as next year