In a somewhat surprising announcement last month, Tesla CEO revealed all Tesla cars, including the new Model 3, will soon come with new hardware that will allow them to be fully autonomous.
Seeing as the first driverless cars aren’t expected to hit the road until at least 2020, Musk’s announcement was quite a revelation, and now, he’s at it again.
Replying to a tweet from a new Model S owner, Musk revealed the upgraded Autopilot software should start arriving in “about three weeks” (as of November 26th).
However, that isn’t to say all the new features that allow for full autonomy will launch in mid-December, as Musk made sure to clarify the update will be rolled out “incrementally in monthly releases.”
Of course, only newly produced Tesla models will come with the requisite hardware to enable the autopilot upgrade to work properly.
New Tesla vehicles, available for order now, are being produced with eight surround cameras with 360-degree visibility at up to 250 meters of range, alongside twelve updated ultrasonic sensors, capable of detecting objects at almost twice the distance of the previous system.
That’s backed up by an enhanced forward-facing radar and a new on-board computer capable of processing all the new information.
The new equipment and software is said to enable “full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.”
This video, debuted earlier this month, demonstrates the new technology in action:
Related: What is Tesla Autopilot
Tesla previously said it will not activate the new autopilot until “millions of miles of real-world driving” has been recorded in order to fine tune the system.
That likely means that even though the roll-out will begin next month, we’ve still got a long way to go until Tesla cars are driving themselves – especially considering the fact that the UK and other countries are yet to finalise laws surrounding driverless cars.
Insurance companies will also have to define the rules of coverage before the advent of fully autonomous vehicles. Last week the Association of British Insurers (ABI) published a list of rules, which lay out how best to protect drivers and insurers when determining liability after an accident involving an autonomous vehicle.
Included in the list was a “basic set of core data” which could be shared with insurers following a collision, including information such as whether the car was in autonomous mode or being driven manually.
The steps to full autonomy are numerous, then, but at least Musk’s latest announcement is a step in the right direction. Stay tuned for more.
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Let us know what you think of Tesla’s plans in the comments.