Tesla Motors finally released its much-awaited software update 8.0 Thursday. Even though the over-the-air release came just a few hours later than CEO Elon Musk had announced on Twitter on Wednesday morning, customers will likely not be complaining.
On its website, Tesla calls the update “a significant over-the-air overhaul of the Tesla touchscreen. This release combines a modern interface and more intuitive Media Player with display improvements for Maps and Autopilot.”
The Autopilot update is perhaps the most significant for the company, as well as its customers. The update, apart from increasing the use of radar imaging — announced by Tesla on Sept. 11 — which will make the self-driving system more accurate, also introduces a new safety feature that disables the vehicle’s auto-steering if the driver ignores safety warnings. This is consistent with the luxury electric car maker insisting that Autopilot is not a fully autonomous driving system, and that drivers must pay attention to the road at all times.
Other smaller updates to Autopilot include increased responsiveness in stop-and-go traffic, showing the direction of vehicles on the instrument panel and redesigned Autopilot indicators.
The map interface has been expanded to cover the entire touchscreen, allowing drivers to see more content at one time as the zoom adjusts itself based on locations and the “control bar fades automatically for an uncluttered navigation experience.” Searching for destinations can be done with a single tap or voice command, and a single swipe can navigate to preset home and work destinations.
Another important improvement is the temperature control focused on safety of children and/or pets left in the car. The Cabin Overheat Protection "feature keeps the car at a safe temperature for hours, even when the car is off, and is made possible by our uniquely large battery packs,” according to Tesla. Musk revealed the temperature will be kept below 105 degrees Fahrenheit “by automatically venting cabin & turning on AC when needed.”
There are also enhancements to the media player, which has been redesigned, and to the voice commands system, which has made voice controls clearer.