Tesla is on the best path to make its cars fully autonomous. Elon Musk announced in a tweet today the release of a software update for the enhanced Autopilot Hardware Kit.
All owners or Tesla Model X and S that were manufactured after October 19th 2016 will receive the enhanced update. Since that day in October all cars come equipped with 8 cameras, radar sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and an NVIDIA processor (here are more details). At least hardware-wise all vehicles are self-driving capable.
A few weeks ago a first ‘shadow’ release was released that only used the hardware kit passively for calibration purposes and data collection. Tesla engineers noticed that some of the cameras need readjustments and have to get serviced. Musk is hopeful that some of the problems can be fixed though another software update.
1,000 Tesla owners already tested the software as beta-testers. The functions include Autopilot autosteer, traffic awareness cruise control, and forward collision warning. Musk asked the owners to be cautious with the new functions.
The safety of the Autopilot was confirmed by the NHTSA in their investigation of the fatal accident of a Tesla-owner with activated Autopilot on May 16th, 2016. Not only was Tesla found without blame for the accident, but the NHTSA also stated that the release of autopilot also reduced collisions by 40 percent.
If Tesla continues with the speed of software updates, and Tesla will demonstrate a fully autonomous drive from Los Angeles to New York City in the 2nd half of 2017, then we will see more than 100,000 Teslas becoming fully autonomous end of 2017 or 2018. And that also in Germany, because the operation license for Teslas will be issued from the Netherlands, which assembles the cars for the European market.