Tesla reveals automatic parallel parking
Tesla's flagship Model S series of electric cars are about to get a whole lot smarter. In a series of tweets the company's charismatic founder Elon Musk revealed that a new software update is nearly ready for release that will allow the car to self park and steer itself on the highway, bringing it closer to Tesla's vision of the fully autonomous, self-driving car.
Almost ready to release highway autosteer and parallel autopark software update, Musk tweeted at the end of July.
The updates were no secret, having been announced back in October 2014, when the top-spec Model S P85D was revealed. The tweets do suggest however that the technical difficulties that delayed the updates' release have finally been overcome.
'Final corner case is dealing with low contrast lane markings (faded white on grey concrete) while driving into the sun at dusk,' Musk added.
Yet another tweet promised that the car would be able to learn. The car will learn over time, but there is a min calibre of starting quality, Musk tweeted.
The Tesla Model S has been an important car since its introduction in 2012 for a number of different reasons. It has won awards such as the World Green Car of the Year in 2013 and has spearheaded the growth of electric vehicles in markets including California and Norway. Now, with improvements to its Autopilot system, the car is taking Tesla another huge step towards the fully autonomous car.
Starting late last year, Model S cars have had certain Autopilot systems available. The vehicles come with mounted cameras, radar and ultrasonic acoustic location sensors that together can be used to detect obstacles, road signs, other vehicles and pedestrians. This allows hands-free driving in limited situations but the upcoming software update promises to take things even further.
As well as the parallel parking and highway autosteer, the Model S is set to get automatic emergency braking and side collision alerts.
Musk has also promised updates that he claimed would end range anxiety' - the worry some drivers have that they won't have enough power stored in their battery to be able to reach their destination, or find a station en route at which to recharge.
The first of these improvements was a range assurance' app that would communicate automatically with the Tesla Supercharger network, giving a warning if the car was due to run out of power and advising on the nearest available Supercharger. These are the free Tesla charging stations that can charge a Model S within minutes. The second was an improved trip planner that Musk said, Makes it effectively impossible for a driver to run out of range unintentionally. You'll have to confirm you want to, actually. Twice.
Existing software can already provide drivers with an estimate of their battery life and its mileage but the improved trip planner will be able to make more accurate predictions by taking into account factors such as road elevation and wind speed, with the data gathered and analysed in real time.