Tesla's chief has taken to Twitter once again to announce news related to his electric car company.
Elon Musk revealed that "major improvements" to Tesla's Autopilot semi-autonomous system are coming to cars via future over-the-air updates, called V8.0 and 8.1, which will be released in the next few weeks. He attributed the improvements to "advanced processing of radar signals". Again, however, this is just a software update, though Tesla is reportedly working to add more cameras and radar sensors to its vehicles.
Musk is keen to pushing forward with Tesla's self-driving dreams. Despite that fatal accident last May, which involved a Model S on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged, the CEO said there are no plans to disable Autopilot. Instead, the automaker will double-down on efforts to educate drivers about how the system works. It will also, apparently, improve the system with updates.
Major improvements to Autopilot coming with V8.0 and 8.1 software (std OTA update) primarily through advanced processing of radar signals— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 31, 2016
The accident from May is the first known fatal accident involving a vehicle being driven by itself by means of computer software, sensors, cameras, and radar. It cast doubts on the future of autonomous vehicles and was a personal blow to Tesla. The company blamed the crash on that fact that neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of a tractor-trailer against a "brightly lit sky", so the system did not apply the brake.
More than 130 million miles have been driven with Tesla's Autopilot feature since the system made its debut in October. Tesla dubbed Autopilot a "beta feature" after launch, and Musk has repeated that it's labelled a "beta specifically so people do not become complacent", adding that the disclaimers provided to drivers are “written in super plain language".
US regulators are investigating the May crash that killed 40-year-old Joshua Brown. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in June said it would investigate the first known fatality connected to the Autopilot system, and that it's homing in on automatic emergency braking.
Autopilot, as of 31 August, uses a combination of cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and data to automatically steer down the highway, change lanes, and adjust speed in response to traffic, according to Tesla.
Musk said he is currently writing a blog post with more details about the new Autopilot improvements and coming software updates, and that he will publish the post on Tesla's website later Wednesday.