- Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
Tesla Model S owners woke up this weekend with some new tricks up their sleeves.
The Elon Musk-run automaker released it latest software – version 7.1 – in an over-the-air update on Saturday. This update features several major changes to the company’s Autopilot system.
The most significant addition is the beta version of the “summon” feature, which allows the cars to enter or exit parking spots or garages without the driver in the car.
“You can summon the car from your key fob or phone through a pull-down menu, it will open the garage door, back out of the garage, close the garage door, and come to you,” Musk said on a call with reporters Sunday.
Right now, the summon feature is still in experimental beta version, but Musk expects the system to become much more advanced over the next few years.
“In two years you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country,” Musk said. “If your car is in New York and you are in Los Angeles, it will find its way to you.”
Along the way, Musk says the car will even be able to charge itself.
Tesla’s software update comes on the heels of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where autonomous driving and advanced in-car software were two hot topics among automakers.
The Tesla CEO believes autonomous driving will be technologically ready within the next 24 to 36 months.
“I don’t believe I’m being too optimistic,” he added.
As for the current beta summon feature, it’s still fairly limited in what it can do. Musk referred to the current iteration as more of a remotely operated function than an autonomous one.
The current version of the summon feature requires the driver to be no further than 33 feet from the car as well as “continually monitor and maintain control of the car” when using the feature. In addition, Tesla requires that the driver only use it on private property with flat topography.
In addition, update 7.1 will allow the Tesla to self-park both parallel and perpendicular to the curb.
This update also includes new restrictions on Autopilot’s Autosteer function on residential roads or roads without a center divider. On these roads, Autosteer will be limited to the posted speed limit plus 5 mph, or 10 kph.
Musk referred this new restriction as “reasonable” for the safe operation of the car.
Another safety featured added in this update is the curve-speed-adaptation function, which gives the car the ability to scan the curve in the road ahead while in Autopilot and automatically adjust the speed based that information.
The over-the-air, or OTA, software update is a function that Tesla pioneered, and now other major automakers, such as Ford, GM and BMW, are all working to the adopt OTA updates in their upcoming cars.
In fact, BMW designer Adrian van Hooydonk told Business Insider at CES that OTA updates will allow car companies to keep pace with tech firms on the technological front.