Tesla cars with Autopilot will soon be able to navigate motorway interchanges without handing control back to the driver. The free Autopilot update is expected to be released soon.
Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, said on 23 August that version 8.0 of the software will bring "material improvements in the autonomy of the car". He added that the software is going through the "final review" stage right now, and the amount of work which has gone into it "will be very noticeable".
Now, Electrek, a blog with a strong track record for breaking Tesla news, claims the update will include an Autopilot system able to handle highway interchanges without being disengaged. Instead of taking control, the driver will only need to flick the indicator to leave one motorway then feed into the next.
This may sound simple to human drivers, but it demonstrates how Autopilot will allegedly soon be able to deal with being surrounded by vehicles moving at vastly different speeds (when joining a new motorway), and navigate interchange corners, which are often tighter than any on the motorway itself.
Although Musk and Tesla claim the Autopilot system learns and improves as it is used, this will be the first time a major update has been sent out to Tesla cars as part of their regular software updates. Since the Model S first went on sale, Tesla has fixed bugs, improved performance and added new features via these free updates, which are sent to the car via its internet connection at night, while it is recharging.
Version 8.0 will be one of the biggest updates yet, with a new user interface, tweaks to the cars' music player, and of course the changes to Autopilot. As well as support for highway interchanges version 8.0 will make Autopilot's steering smoother and the radar cruise control more responsive.