2016 Tesla Model S
On Wednesday, Tesla released its version 8.0 software to Model S and Model X owners through an over-the-air update.
Announced by the carmaker earlier this month, the software update includes hundreds of changes to vehicle functionality—with most relating to the Autopilot driver-assist system—according to the company.
Tesla has been under significant pressure to upgrade or alter Autopilot since a fatal May 7 crash involving a Model S running the system.
Perhaps the most significant change to Autopilot is a switch to prioritizing data from the system's radar, which CEO Elon Musk believes could have prevented the crash.
Autopilot previously required visual confirmation of radar data from its forward-facing camera, in order to prevent false positives from overhead objects like bridges and signs.
In the May crash, a Model S collided broadside with a tractor trailer. At the time, Tesla said that Autopilot failed to distinguish the white side of the trailer from the bright sky, although the company noted that the driver missed it too.
Tesla Model S Autopilot
Shortly after Tesla announced the version 8.0 software update was announced in a September 11 blog post, Musk said it was "very likely" that the new version of Autopilot could have prevented the crash.
Another change aimed at addressing Autopilot safety concerns is that the system will now shut down its Autosteer function if drivers ignore repeated warnings to keep their hands on the wheel.
If such a shutdown is triggered, Autosteer will not reactivate until the car has been parked.
Aside from safety-related changes, the software update also gives Autopilot the ability take highway off-ramps if prompted either by a flick of a turn signal or by directions from the navigation system.
Tesla also claims the system is now better at taking curves, and reacting to cars in adjacent lanes coming too close.
In addition, the radar sensor can now monitor the behavior of not only the car ahead, but the car ahead of that one, by bouncing a signal beneath the car immediately in front.
2016 Tesla Model X
As well as features related to driving, the version 8.0 update adds Cabin Overheat Protection, which keeps cabin temperature below a certain threshold to prevent children or pets from overheating.
This system automatically activates the air conditioning when the interior temperature reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tesla also claims that version 8.0 of its software represents the biggest update to infotainment capabilities since the launch of the Model S in 2012.
Navigation maps now span the entire 17-inch central touchscreen, and the navigation system includes a trip planner as well.
The media player and voice-control functions have been streamlined, with voice control now initiated with a single tap.
Text in the instrument cluster now confirms voice commands, and "visual tips" remind the driver of what functions are available as well.