In the next two weeks, Tesla owners will receive a download of Version 8 of the company’s autopilot firmware. According to Tesla, this software upgrade will implement “more advanced signal processing” using radar sensors currently installed on all Tesla vehicles since October 2014.

Tesla vehicles currently have cameras to confirm visual image recognition.  The onboard radar sensors only serve as secondary measures to help detect objects in the vehicle’s path. According to reports, it was this configuration that resulted in the Autopilot’s failure to identify and avoid hitting a white trailer against the bright sky. The Florida accident resulted in the death of Tesla Model S owner Josh Brown in May of this year.  The accident is being investigated by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Photo Source: NDTV

Tesla’s Version 8 software update seeks to improve the Autopilot system by using the radar as the main sensor tasked with helping the vehicle to detect obstacles.  On a press call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said, “We’re making much more effective use of radar,”.

Photo Source: Tesla

Once the Tesla Autopilot system is engaged, the car takes control and keeps pace with traffic.  Functions include identifying objects, avoiding false alarms, initiating braking events and even switching lanes. .

Photo Source: TechCrunch

The new system upgrade will also feature improved voice command that eliminates the need to hold a button for use.  The  

Model S and X owners will also get a redesigned map and navigation interface.

Tesla owners in Europe will have access to a Spotify app in their cars but there is no word as to whether US drivers will be able to enjoy that same feature.

Sources: Fast Company, BBC, TechCrunch

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