Tesla has completely revamped its maps and navigation system and it recently started releasing the first beta version of the system to its fleet.
Along with the update, Tesla is now also releasing a new Waze-like crowdsourced traffic data feature.
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The automaker has been working on a complete overhaul of the system for a while now. We have been reporting on unreleased iterations of it since last summer.
Tesla started releasing the update last month with the software version 2018.12, but the rollout is not linked to any particular update and Tesla is enabling it gradually to some owners while it’s in beta to make sure it works well in each geographical areas.
Now some Tesla owners are reporting having the new engine enabled with the new 2018.14 update and it includes the addition of a new real-time traffic information being accounted into the new navigation system’s estimated travel time.
That’s not too surprising since it’s a full overhaul of the navigation engine, but what is most interesting is that the data is crowdsourced from Tesla’s fleet of vehicles.
Tesla explains the new feature in the terms that owners have to accept:
“The Model S navigation system now takes real-time traffic conditions into account when determining a route for you. Estimated travel times are adjusted to reflect traffic and your car will continuously monitor traffic while navigating and re-routing you if warranted.
In order for these features to work, Tesla measures the road segment data of all participating vehicles but in a way that doesn’t identify you or your car, and may share that with partners that contribute similar data to help us provide the service. At no point is any personally identifiable information collected or shared during this process. You can enable or disable this feature and the collection and sharing of this data at any time via “TRAFFIC-BASED ROUTING” setting in Controls > Settings > Apps > Maps & Navigation.”
The automaker asked owners to agree to similar terms about Autopilot when releasing an Autopilot 2.0 update last year. Tesla asked owners for the authorization to collect videos from the Autopilot cameras.
I think that was inevitable at some point and now that Tesla is ramping up Model 3 production, the number of potential vehicles on the road are quickly starting to become significant enough to collect some up-to-date traffic data.
Of course, it’s still nothing close to Waze’s tens of millions of users, but Tesla interestingly says that they may share the data with “partners that contribute similar data to help us provide the service” – indicating that they could be partnering with other companies, which would increase the number of data points.
There’s always the concern of data privacy, which is especially controversial right now, but Tesla enables users to opt out of it, like Autopilot data sharing.
Now this way to crowdsourced real-time traffic data has proved to be quite efficient before, like with Waze, but it always depends on how it’s done and we will have to test it on Tesla’s latest navigation engine to have a better idea.
If you have the new engine, let us know what you think.