Tesla Updates its Autopilot to Work on Highway Interchanges
【Summary】Tesla models equipped with the latest software version will now be able to navigate freeway interchanges autonomously. The new feature is called “Navigate on Autopilot” and uses the car’s built-in navigation system to guide the vehicle from a freeway on-ramp to the off-ramp.
One of the benefits of owning a Tesla is that the company's vehicles can be updated over-the-air as Tesla improves upon its vehicle software. The latest update includes an improved version of Tesla's autonomous driving system Autopilot. Tesla models equipped with the latest software version will now be able to navigate freeway interchanges autonomously.
The new feature is called "Navigate on Autopilot" and uses the car's built-in navigation system to guide the vehicle from a freeway on-ramp to the off-ramp. The older version of Autopilot could not navigate through highway interchanges, requiring drivers to take back control when entering or exiting a freeway.
In addition, the system will make lane change suggestions based on the current route, all the driver has to do to change lanes activate the turn-signal in the direction of the desired lane. The system is designed to make finding and following the most efficient path even easier on the highway when Autopilot is in use. Tesla said that future improvements will include a setting to allow the vehicle to change lanes by itself— without using the turn signal stalk.
Mild or "Mad Max" Settings
The Autopilot suggests moving into another lane based on the speed you wish to travel and better match the speed of traffic. The Navigate feature has three selectable options called Mild, Average and "Mad Max".
In the Mild setting, Tesla will suggest a lane change only if you're traveling significantly slower than your set cruise speed. So if you traveling at 50 mph but your cruise control is set at 60 mph the Autopilot will suggest a lane change.
For drivers looking to go faster, Tesla added a "Mad Max" mode will suggest a lane change when you're traveling just below your desired speed. Suppose your cruise control is set at 70mph, but your stuck in slower moving traffic. The Mad Max mode will advise you to change lanes to speed up your trip. The system can also be turned off entirely.
Tesla noted that Navigate on Autopilot may not be available on every route.
Tesla said that more than 1 billion miles of real-world driving data collected from its vehicles have been used to support the feature. Navigate on Autopilot is built exclusively for vehicle's equipped with Tesla's Enhanced Autopilot software, which includes a powerful onboard processor, ultrasonic sensors, radar, and external cameras that feed Tesla's own neural net.
Tesla software includes advanced machine learning algorithms that collect and process data in milliseconds. Tesla said its future AI chip combined with the company's self-driving platform will speed up processing time even more.
As more miles are collected from vehicles with Navigate on Autopilot in use, Tesla said will continue to make it better.
The improvements are part of Tesla's Software Version 9.0., which was made available to Tesla owners earlier this month. This update comes with a number of new features including easier climate controls and the ability to record dash cam video with the car's forward-facing camera. In addition, Tesla vehicles equipped with Hardware 2.0 or above get activation of all eight external cameras, allowing for a 360-degree view.
Navigate on Autopilot will begin to roll out this week to U.S. customers who have purchased Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving Capability.
The feature will be introduced in other markets in the future pending validation and regulatory approval.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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