Tesla plans to release Autopilot ‘On Ramp/Off Ramp’ feature in version 9.0 update next month

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been hyping the release of the automaker’s version 9.0 software update, which is expected to include a bunch of improvements from small convenience features to new Autopilot features.

Now the automaker elaborated on those new Autopilot features, which will include the much-anticipated ‘On-ramp to Off-ramp’  feature.

Yesterday, Musk announced that Tesla plans on launching software version 9.0 in ‘4 weeks’.

During the earnings conference call that followed his announcement, he actually clarified that the Tesla owners in the early access program, who test beta versions of the new software releases, will have the update in about 4 weeks.

The rest of the fleet will probably have access next month, he said:

“Now we are focused on the version 9.0 software release which has a number of really cool things in it – and we’re hoping to get that out to the early access program in about four weeks and then broadly in September. That’s the hardcore focus right now and that will certainly include some significant advancements in autonomy.”

Stuart Bowers, who Tesla recently hired from Snap as VP of Engineering, said that one of those ‘significant advancements in autonomy’ will be the ‘On-ramp to Off-ramp’  feature.

He said during the conference call:

“So right now, a lot of the focus is on Autopilot version 9, which is our sort of an on-ramp to off-ramp solution that’s going to automatically attempt to change lanes, understand what lane the car is in, understand the route the user wants to travel and take that route for the user and ultimately hand back control to that user which is kind of safe and controlled.”

Tesla announced the ‘On-ramp to Off-ramp’  feature with the release of Autopilot 2.0 and the Enhanced Autopilot package back in 2016.

It was supposed to be released in 2017, but it was stuck with all the delays that the Autopilot 2.0 program suffered over the last 2 years.

The automaker describes the feature on its website:

“Once on the freeway, your Tesla will determine which lane you need to be in and when. In addition to ensuring you reach your intended exit, Autopilot will watch for opportunities to move to a faster lane when you’re caught behind slower traffic. When you reach your exit, your Tesla will depart the freeway, slow down and transition control back to you.”

What they are describing here sounds a lot like a level 3 autonomous driving system, which would mean that the version 9.0 software update could push Autopilot up by one level for owners of Autopilot 2.0 cars with the Enhanced Autopilot package.

As we previously reported, Musk also said that Tesla will release a new Autopilot interface with version 9.0 to match the new and improved Autopilot capabilities.

The CEO noted that after the release, the team will focus on fully self-driving capability and he believes the coast-to-coast autonomous drive that he said would happen last year could potentially happen by the end of the year.

That said, Tesla’s fully self-driving software will require a hardware upgrade as announced yesterday. Tesla claims to have the ‘world’s most advanced computer for autonomous driving’ coming in an Autopilot Hardware 3.0 update next year.

Electrek’s Take

This earnings call was particularly exciting when it comes to Autopilot. It sounds like version 9.0 could bring the biggest change to the driver assist system ever – even bigger than 8.0 two years ago.

More importantly, it sounds like it will change a lot the way we use Autopilot.

As for hardware, it’s impressive that the Tesla AI chip is apparently already completed and running in test vehicles. That’s something that we have been looking at for over 2 years now and it sounds like it is finally coming to fruition. I discussed it on Twitter:

I am pretty excited to learn about the new hardware and software. If you guys know about it, please reach out.

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