Last October, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a forthcoming ‘Autopilot’ feature for the Model S that will change lanes for the driver once the signal is turned on and the car deems it safe to do so. Since then, Tesla began shipping the Model S with a camera built into the back of the rearview mirror, but to date the camera hasn’t been doing anything.
This is all about to change, according to Musk in a press call in March, who stated that “in about three months” Tesla will turn on auto-steering. The Autopilot feature will be shipped using Tesla’s over-the-air software update, which gives Tesla a significant edge in the race to self-driving cars because it can quickly roll out new features like this to vehicles already sold and on the road. Tesla is as much a software company as it is a hardware company.
“We can basically go between San Francisco and Seattle without the driver doing anything,” Musk said of the autonomous system that Tesla has developed. For now though, you will only be able to engage auto-steering on highways.
In the future, drivers will be able to summon an unmanned Model S to their location or direct the car to drive itself into a garage, but Musk does not want people to confuse Autopilot with a self-driving car.
The Version 7.0 update also includes a feature called Range Assurance which is basically GPS software that won’t let you run out of juice on the road. This feature is of course meant to help ease “range anxiety” among Tesla drivers.