Tesla Model S Autopilot
Tesla's Autopilot takes over control of the pedals and steering wheel on the motorwayReuters

UPDATE: The author of an article which originally broke this story, and on which this IBTimes UK article is based, has admitted to misreading when an interview with Tesla's JB Straubel took place. The comments made about a "pretty big" software update were made during an interview in August 2015. A video of this interview was republished on 4 March 2016 and was mistakenly considered new by The Motley Fool.


A major software update bringing a range of new self-driving features is coming to the Tesla Model S in the coming weeks. Chief technology officer JB Straubel added that the company is working on autonomous driving "very aggressively".

The Model S is already capable of driving itself on motorways and parking without the driver touching the pedals or steering wheel. In the US, the car can even drive itself out of a garage without anyone in the driver's seat.

But much more is coming. Straubel said: "In terms of driverless cars, we're working on this very aggressively right now. We have a pretty big release - sort of a new set of features - via a software update very, very soon, actually, in just a few weeks to a lot of our customers."

Tesla uses the Model S' 3G internet connection to feed software updates to cars overnight. When the owner gets in the next morning, the new software is installed and ready to be used. Autopilot, the name Tesla's gives its autonomous feature set, was implemented as a paid-for software update in 2015.

Tesla Model 3

The "just a few weeks" time frame is interesting, given Tesla will reveal its next car, the Model 3, on 31 March and will begin taking deposits on the same day. To cost £30,000 and have a range of around 220 miles, deliveries of the Model 3 will begin in 2017. The car will be important to Tesla, as it will enter a hugely competitive sector of the market, going up against petrol cars like the BMW 3-Series.

For now, it is unclear if the Model 3 will have the same range of Autopilot features as the larger and more expensive Model S and Model X, but Tesla has said the cheaper car will include some of their self-driving sensors and other hardware. Autopilot is currently a £2,200 option on the Model S, or £2,600 if owners decide to enable the feature after they purchase the car.