Tesla’s latest Vehicle Safety Report revealed its Model S, Model X and Model 3 have the highest safety profiles not only within the EV industry, but for the entire vehicle industry as a whole.
One of the more interesting aspects is how Tesla’s Autopilot and software updates are evolving to support driving and car safety. While countries like South Korea are still assessing its Autopilot safety, statistics from the USA’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that the Autopilot, along with other car features, significantly improves safety.
So, how do the latest software updates to Tesla's Autopilot help achieve high safety records without giving drivers a false sense of security or promoting excessive driving dependence that could lead to carelessness?
Since all Tesla cars provide digital information on driving behavior, it's possible for Tesla to analyze how and why accidents occur, which provides ways to continually improve on the Autopilot features. Additionally, Tesla emphasizes to its drivers to always pay attention and be prepared to take sudden action such as immediate braking. Responsible drivers must be ready to take control of the vehicle the moment the situation calls for it.
The latest software updates to Tesla’s Autopilot offer constant enhancements to the beta-phase Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control feature introduced earlier this year. The car's cameras, in-dash navigation system, and map data detect if a stop sign or traffic light is coming up and it will stop the car for these obstacles. The latest version of this feature will keep the car in motion through a green light without the driver having to intercept, but this is only on the condition that the Autopilot is engaged, the vehicle is not in a turning lane, and the cars in front do not stop. Drivers must never ignore external factors like a lead car jumping a red light as Tesla’s driving assisted features do not replace the alertness of an engaged driver.
Over and above the Autopilot upgrades, other new and improved features allow drivers to enlarge rear-facing cameras to extend the view behind the vehicle. In addition to the Sentry Mode, which detects external threats while stationary, now features a red dot in its recordings to show exactly when the Sentry Mode event was activated. The cabin camera can also be used to automatically take images and video clips prior to an impact or a safety incident that helps engineers make adjustments that will enhance safety for future releases.
Elon Musk recently disclosed that the Autopilot system will see upgrades to four-dimensional capabilities and will soon include identification of other Teslas nearby on the display panel. While it may not serve any real practical purpose, Elon Musk commented in a recent tweet that it could be “a fun punch buggy sort of game”.
The most recent Tesla software updates are normally released to customers participating in the early access program, but you can keep abreast of the latest updates through a website listing all the Tesla Software Updates. However, using the TeslaFi firmware tracker is highly useful in tracking a fleet’s progress, and monitoring all stats related to your Tesla vehicle such as software updates, charging data, and range loss.
Whenever Tesla releases a software update to the general public, the car will provide you with a notification to install the new update. While it is not yet possible to automatically install updates, you can set your preferences to priority support by changing your car’s settings in Controls > Software > Software Update Preference.
When updates are published, the car will automatically download them in the background and install once you’ve initiated it. Keeping the car connected via Wi-Fi will promote quicker downloads and regular updates, and available features will depend on your Tesla model’s MCU (Media Control Unit), the Autopilot version, and the country regulations.