Elon Musk finally released the details of Tesla Software Version 8.
After several delays, Elon Musk and his team at Tesla released the details of the upcoming Tesla Software Version 8. At the core of the new update is Autopilot.
The new Autopilot will use of more advanced signal processing to create a picture of the world using the onboard radar. The radar was added to all Tesla vehicles in October 2014 as part of the Autopilot hardware suite, but was only meant to be a supplementary sensor to the primary camera and image processing system.
Tesla believes it can use radar as a primary control sensor for Autopilot without requiring the camera to confirm visual image recognition.
"This is a non-trivial and counter-intuitive problem, because of how strange the world looks in radar. Photons of that wavelength travel easily through fog, dust, rain and snow, but anything metallic looks like a mirror. The radar can see people, but they appear partially translucent. Something made of wood or painted plastic, though opaque to a person, is almost as transparent as glass to radar," says the Tesla Team.
Adding: "On the other hand, any metal surface with a dish shape is not only reflective, but also amplifies the reflected signal to many times its actual size. A discarded soda can on the road, with its concave bottom facing towards you can appear to be a large and dangerous obstacle, but you would definitely not want to slam on the brakes to avoid it. Therefore, the big problem in using radar to stop the car is avoiding false alarms. Slamming on the brakes is critical if you are about to hit something large and solid, but not if you are merely about to run over a soda can. Having lots of unnecessary braking events would at best be very annoying and at worst cause injury."
The new radar Autopilot unlocks access to six times as many radar objects with the same hardware with a lot more information per object. The software then is assembling those radar snapshots, which take place every tenth of a second, into a 3D "picture" of the world. To solve issues like correctly recognizing an overhead highway road sign positioned on a rise in the road or a bridge where the road dips underneath, Tesla uses the fleet learning system.
Tesla will also be able to bounce the radar signal under a vehicle in front, using the radar pulse signature and photon time of flight to distinguish the signal - and still brake even when trailing a car that is opaque to both vision and radar. "The car in front might hit the UFO in dense fog, but the Tesla will not."
The new radar Autopilot sounds incredible. There is no set time line when the new Autopilot will be released. Elon Musk has mentioned before that it will be in a couple of weeks and possibly in stages.
The new Tesla Software Version 8 will enable the Models and Model X to the highway exit if indicator on (8.0) or if nav system active (8.1). Available only in the United States initially.
Below is the list of all new features and improvements coming in Tesla firmware 8.0.
Tesla Software Update 8 Features:
TACC braking max ramp rate increased and latency reduced by a factor of five
Now controls for two cars ahead using radar echo, improving cut-out response and reaction time to otherwise-invisible heavy braking events
Will take highway exit if indicator on (8.0) or if nav system active (8.1). Available in the United States initially
Car offsets in lane when overtaking a slower vehicle driving close to its lane edge
Interface alerts are much more prominent, including flashing white border on instrument panel
Improved cut-in detection using blinker on vehicle ahead
Reduced likelihood of overtaking in right lane in Europe
Improved auto lane change availability
Car will not allow reengagement of Autosteer until parked if user ignores repeated warnings
Automatic braking will now amplify user braking in emergencies
In manual mode, alerts driver if about to leave the road and no torque on steering wheel has been detected since Autosteer was deactivated
With further data gathering, car will activate Autosteer to avoid collision when probability ~100%
Curve speed adaptation now uses fleet-learned roadway curvature
Approximately 200 small enhancements that aren't worth a bullet point