Friday night, Tesla started pushing yet another software update for its vehicles equipped with second generation Autopilot hardware (October 2016-present).
The new update removes the main restrictions on Autosteer, the Autopilot’s main autonomous feature, and made Tesla’s own proprietary vision system almost to feature parity with the first generation Autopilot powered by Mobileye.
At the end of March, Tesla released its 8.1 update – the biggest for Autopilot 2.0 – which increased the speed limit of the Autosteer feature to 80 mph (128 km/h) – up from 55 mph.
Now the new update released today bump it up to 90 mph (145 km/h), which is the current limit for first generation Autopilot vehicles.
Furthermore, Tesla removed the off-highway speed limit of 35 mph for Autosteer and made it the same as the latest restrictions on first gen Autopilot: 5 mph over the speed limit.
Here are the new Autopilot speed limits described in the release notes (18.104.22.168.4):
- On highways: Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control have speed limits of 90 mph.
- Off highways: Autosteer is no longer restricted to 35 mph.
- Autosteer has a speed limit of 5 mph faster than the detected speed limit, unless you’ve specified a lower speed limit offset.
- If Model S does not detect a limit, then the maximum speed the vehicle can drive is 45 mph.
Tesla also pushed more widely Automatic Emergency Braking, which started last week, added Auto High Beam, and made enhancements to Side Collision Warnings.
Here are the release notes in full (thanks to Alap Desai):
We still need to see some tests of the Autosteer feature in action to judge its efficiency, but on paper, this update brings the feature to parity with Autosteer on the first generation Autopilot.
Update: Chris Lattner, the head of Tesla’s Autopilot software, added that the performance and feel of the Autopilot have also been “much improved” with the update:
As for overall parity for autonomous features using the new hardware, Tesla still needs to release automatic perpendicular parking in the Autopark features and separately, it still doesn’t have automatic wipers.
Since October 2014, when Tesla introduced the first generation autopilot, the company had regularly released more advanced autonomous features in its vehicles. But since the release of Autopilot 2.0 using Tesla’s own computer vision, it was actually regressing and the progress stopped.
CEO Elon Musk explained on a conference call with analysts earlier this week:
“We had a bit of a dip, obviously, because of the unexpectedly rapid transition away from Mobileye, where we’d expected to have the Mobileye chip on the board as we transitioned but Mobileye refused to allow that. So then we had to basically recreate all the Mobileye functionality in about 6 months – which we did.”
With this release, it looks like the “dip” is pretty much over and Tesla can now go back on leveraging its Autopilot technology to release more advanced features – leading eventually to full autonomous driving. It was a tough few months for Tesla owners with Autopilot 2.0 vehicles, but now it looks like it will be some exciting times on the Autopilot front.