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Tesla to release Autopilot update following fatal crash

Tesla aims to improve the Model S Autopilot. (Photo: Tesla)

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Kate Mann
Kate Mann
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Major software update will introduce a new feature that automatically navigates off-ramps to exit a highway.

Under massive public scrutiny, Tesla is planning a major update to its Autopilot software within the next few weeks. Just a couple of days ago, a fatal crash involving an activated Autopilot in a Tesla Model S became public. Although Tesla had been preparing the software update before the widely publicized crash, the release now comes at a crucial point for the company.

The update of the partially-autonomous system will “allow for improvements in the general Autopilot experience in traffic,” according to an Electrek report. But even more notably, it will introduce a new feature that lets Autopilot automatically navigate off-ramps in order to exit a highway. The driver only needs to activate the turn signal. So far, the Autopilot feature had only been presented as enabling partially-autonomous driving “ramp-to ramp” on the highway.

In May 2016, a Tesla Model S electric sedan car collided with a truck in Florida while the Autopilot function was active. The car driver, former Navy Seal Joshua Brown, was killed in the accident. Brown was reportedly watching a movie at the time of the crash. Tesla has labelled their Autopilot a beta version and cautions their drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times. But numerous videos on YouTube of Tesla drivers fooling around show that this has not been internalized by every user.

The Autopilot update is part of Tesla’s software version 8.0 for its Model S which will also come with substantial user experience improvements, Electrek reports. This includes a redesigned navigation interface and improved voice commands. However, according to tech blog BGR, “none of the enhancements coming in version 8.0 would have prevented Brown’s fatal crash.”

Read the full Electrek article here.

Read the full BGR article here.

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