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Tesla Autopilot gets new safety features it probably should have had to begin with

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced new safety features are coming to its Autopilot assisted driving technology.

Musk said the Tesla Version 8.0 software update offers more than 200 enhancements and would make greater use of the car’s on-board radar in an effort to better detect oncoming obstacles.

In a blog post, Musk said the radar, initially a “supplementary sensor” can now be used as a “primary control centre.”

Related: What is Tesla Autopilot?

To enable this, the company has figured out a way for the radar to discern between small objects, low bridges, road signs and genuine threats. Software 8.0 will use fleet learning to build up a 3D radar picture of objects.

Musk wrote: “When the data shows that false braking events would be rare, the car will begin mild braking using radar, even if the camera doesn’t notice the object ahead. As the system confidence level rises, the braking force will gradually increase to full strength when it is approximately 99.99% certain of a collision. This may not always prevent a collision entirely, but the impact speed will be dramatically reduced to the point where there are unlikely to be serious injuries to the vehicle occupants.”

The update – Tesla Version 8.0 – is coming in 1-2 weeks, Musk told reporters on Sunday.

Tesla has come under fire in recent months, following the death of a driver who crashed when Autopilot failed to detect a lorry.

The firm has also been pressured to change the name because of the implication it requires no driver attention.

Video: Is Tesla Autopilot safe?

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