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Tesla activates Autopilot software for Model S

In October last year, Telsa started equipping Model S with hardware to allow for the incremental introduction of self-driving technology; including a forward radar, a forward-looking camera, 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors and a digitally-controlled electric assist braking system. Launched this week, Tesla's Version 7.0 software allows those tools to deliver a range of new active safety and convenience features, designed to work in conjunction with the automated driving capabilities already offered in Model S.

This combined suite of features represents a fully integrated autopilot system involving four different feedback modules: camera, radar, ultrasonics, and GPS. Realtime data is fed back from the Tesla fleet, ensuring that the system is continually learning and improving upon itself. Tesla Version 7.0 software will be delivered through over-the-air software updates.

Autopilot allows Model S to steer within a lane, change lanes with the tap of a turn signal, and manage speed by using active, traffic-aware cruise control. Digital control of motors, brakes, and steering helps avoid collisions from the front and sides, as well as preventing the car from wandering off the road. Equipped vehicles can also scan for a parking space, alert the driver when one is available, and parallel park on command.

Tesla draws similarities between Tesla Autopilot functions and the systems that airplane pilots use when conditions are clear. The driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car, but will have intuitive access to the information the systems are using to inform actions.

This release also features a visual refresh of the digital displays for every Model S around the world. Tesla states that the upgraded Instrument Panel is focused on the driver and includes more functional apps to help monitor your ride.

Katie Beck

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