Tesla Model S Autopilot
And it appears that even when Autopilot is turned off, it will turn itself on when it detects that a collision is imminent.
Tesla's bulletpointed list of major updates for Autopilot 8.0 includes:
- TACC braking max ramp rate increased and latency reduced by a factor of five
- Now controls for two cars ahead using radar echo, improving cut-out response and reaction time to otherwise-invisible heavy braking events
- Will take highway exit if indicator on (8.0) or if nav system active (8.1). Available in the United States initially
- Car offsets in lane when overtaking a slower vehicle driving close to its lane edge
- Interface alerts are much more prominent, including flashing white border on instrument panel
- Improved cut-in detection using blinker on vehicle ahead
- Reduced likelihood of overtaking in right lane in Europe
- Improved auto lane change availability
- Car will not allow reengagement of Autosteer until parked if user ignores repeated warnings
- Automatic braking will now amplify user braking in emergencies
- In manual mode, alerts driver if about to leave the road and no torque on steering wheel has been detected since Autosteer was deactivated
- With further data gathering, car will activate Autosteer to avoid collision when probability ~100%
- Curve speed adaptation now uses fleet-learned roadway curvature
- Approximately 200 small enhancements that aren't worth a bullet point
LIDAR still AWOL
Most automakers developing autonomous driving software employ LIDAR, which works similarly to radar, but relies on lasers and light rather than radar's radio waves. Tesla has poo-pooed LIDAR, insisting that it's too susceptible to weather glitches (in much the same way that Autopilot's cameras are). However, when weather conditions are favorable, LIDAR has often proven itself superior to both radar and cameras in creating maps of its environment.
Though LIDAR technology is usually pretty big, spy shots from test tracks have revealed smaller, hockey puck-sized LIDAR units on Tesla vehicles lately. Using LIDAR on Autopilot would require more than a software upgrade, though: it would require new hardware.
Tesla doesn't clarify when Autopilot 8.0 will begin rolling out to owners. However, given the thoroughness of the list above, we'd expect it to happen soon.