With the release of its 8.1 software update last month, Tesla introduced the biggest update yet for its vehicles with second-generation Autopilot hardware (all cars since October 2016). They increased the speed limit for the Autosteer feature to 80 mph, implemented refinements to the traffic aware cruise control, and introduced the Summon feature – among other smaller improvements.
But the system still wasn’t at feature parity with the first generation Autopilot, primarily because of the lack of Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) feature. Electrek has now learned that the important feature is going to be released this week.
As we reported during the release of the 8.1 update, AEB has been a high priority feature for Tesla, but due to the nature of the safety feature, the company needs to make sure to get the false positive rate as low as possible in order to implement it safely.
Unlike with the first generation Autopilot, Tesla has to build the feature from the ground up using its own ‘Tesla Vision’ technology and the new sensor suite.
A reliable source familiar with Tesla’s Autopilot program told Electrek that the team is now satisfied with the feature and it should be gradually released by the end of the week through an over-the-air software update to all vehicles equipped with second generation Autopilot hardware. We asked Tesla to confirm the news and we will update when we can.
Update: Tesla confirmed to Electrek that they are aiming to release the update by the end of the week.
The AEB feature was credited for being in part responsible for reducing the crash rate with airbag deployment of Tesla’s first generation Autopilot cars by almost 40%.
While Automatic Emergency Braking can’t prevent all accidents, it can often reduce the force of an impact by applying the brakes automatically if there’s no alternative collision avoidance strategy. A less violent impact can make an important difference and also often don’t require airbag deployment – hence the reduced crash rate statistic, which has been reviewed by NHTSA.
It acts as a last resort solution if appropriate actions are not taken when Tesla’s forward collision warning alerts the driver. A few impressive uses of those two features have been captured on video before, like when the forward collision warning alert using Autopilot’s new radar technology predicted an accident caught on dashcam a second later.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk expects that the same features built on the second-generation Autopilot hardware will enable even more significant improvements. In January, he said that he sees a potential for a 90% reduction in the crash rate versus the first generation Autopilot’s 40% reduction.
Last year, NHTSA brokered a deal that will see virtually all new cars in the US equipped with AEB by 2022. Tesla signed the agreement even though by the end of the week, all its vehicles produced since October 2014 are equipped with different versions of AEB.
Featured Image: Tesla testing automatic emergency braking in a Model S.
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