Tesla is due to deliver the next major version of its vehicle software, Version 10, starting next month, and it will include some significant upgrades to its Autopilot driver-assistance suite.
CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter over the weekend that the new software will do a better job of recognizing stop signs and traffic lights in cities and offer better driving characteristics on the highway.
Musk said in April that the company expects its cars to be fully capable of driving themselves by the end of the year, and—pending regulatory approval—will be available for owners to rent out through Tesla as self-driving taxis at some point in the future. U.S. safety regulators, however, seem nowhere near ready to authorize self-driving cars without drivers.
Yes, V10 will include several games & infotainment features, improved highway Autopilot, better traffic light & stop sign recognition & Smart Summon— e^👁🥧 (@elonmusk) July 28, 2019
The new Version 10 software will take advantage of a new self-driving hardware chip that Musk also announced in April and said will be available for older Teslas (back to 2015), by the end of the year.
Since Tesla enabled its Navigate on Autopilot system last fall, which can drive automatically—with driver supervision—on highways from on-ramp to off-ramp by changing lanes without driver intervention, Musk has said the next frontier is to improve its cars' ability to operate automatically on city streets.
Self-driving in cities is much harder than on highways, because cars have to deal with cross-traffic and pedestrians, and stop lights and stop signs aren't always consistently placed.
If history is a guide, Version 10 software is unlikely to be the last update from the company, and it may even require several more updates before Tesla's Full Self-Driving Capability can truly mimic, or improve on, a human driver's capabilities.
In addition to the improved self-driving capabilities, Musk said the new software update will include Smart Summon, which is currently in use by some Early Access Program (invite-only) owners and allows the car to navigate some parking lots. Specifically, it can drop the driver off at the door and go park itself, then return to pick up the driver autonomously. Version 10 would begin rolling the feature out to all Tesla owners who have paid for the $6,000 Full Self-Driving Capability option.
It will also include the ability to read and send text messages by voice, as well as several on-screen games, and Netflix and YouTube streaming to play when the car is parked.