The electric car manufacturer has gone from delay to ahead of schedule.
Like many other pieces of software, Tesla’s self driving system has seen some delays. Tesla had initially planned to release the first features of their cars’ self driving capabilities, known as “enhanced autopilot” by the end of last year, but delays meant it only first reached cars last week. Following this, it was generally understood that new features would become available with regular updates to the cars’ software every few weeks or months throughout 2017. This would finally result in a demonstration of Tesla’s fully self-driven system at the end of the year.
In addition, the availability of the various self driving features would be subject to the laws and regulations where you live. In Michigan for example, a law has already been put in place allowing the operation of fully automated cars after passing a test. Other places may not yet have similar laws.
All Tesla vehicles are equipped with 8 cameras, 1 radar and a 360-degree ultrasonics hardware suite, but Tesla only enables half the cameras for “Enhanced Autopilot”. The rest are activated when a user decides to upgrade to “Full Self-Driving Capability”. The company writes on its order page: “Build upon Enhanced Autopilot and order Full Self-Driving Capability on your Tesla. This doubles the number of active cameras from four to eight, enabling full self-driving in almost all circumstances, at what we believe will be a probability of safety at least twice as good as the average human driver.”
The advantage of eight cameras can’t be felt yet, since the self-driving features are only just being enabled. A recent tweet however, has revealed Tesla’s timeline, and when they imagine that the “Full Self-Driving Capability” features will depart enough from the current features that the driving experience will be significantly different. Elon Musk declared that the features will be available in “3 months maybe, 6 months definitely”
While the enhanced autopilot may be a bit delayed, it seems full automation may be here earlier than expected. Six months is certainly less than ‘end of the year’.