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Tesla just ramped up its Autopilot system

01-25-2017 10:15 AM CET | Business, Economy, Finances, Banking & Insurance

Press release from: Howard James

After a delay, Telsa's new Autopilot is finally ready for mass rollout.

After a delay, Telsa's new Autopilot is finally ready for mass rollout.

In recent news this week Tesla mastermind Elon Musk first teased the new system, Enhanced Autopilot, for the automaker's HW2 hardware package (which has been included in all new models since October) back in December, but the software release was delayed by bugs. Then came a limited update to 1,000 cars and a passive download for the whole HW2 fleet.

Instead of overwhelming the system with all of HW2's capabilities at once, Autopilot updates will be released at a staggered pace throughout the year via over-the-air downloads every two to six weeks.

The first release gives Tesla drivers access to Traffic Aware Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, and Autosteer+ features, according to reports from Business Insider. The Autosteer+ function, which works in tandem with Traffic Aware Cruise Control to automatically keep vehicles in their lanes during heavy traffic, will at first be limited to use at speeds below 45 mph as the system collects more data.

While some impatient Tesla owners might be frustrated by the delays and abundance of caution in the software rollout, it's for good reason. Last week, the automaker's existing tech was cleared of responsibility in an investigation following the first Autopilot fatality. Still the incident brought an increased focus on Tesla's autonomous system, especially in the way users are informed of its functions and capabilities.

Still, the old Autopilot was a Level 2 autonomous system, which means it required active human control for the driving experience. With the HW2, however, Tesla is aiming for Level 5 autonomy. This means the automated system can perform all driving tasks as if a person were controlling the car.

Musk made it clear that the goal is to have the HW2's full potential for autonomy unlocked by the end of this year. In response to a question on Twitter, he gave a rough timeline that the autonomous shift could begin as soon as March.

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