Autonomous Vehicles

Published on March 25th, 2015 | by James Ayre


Tesla Testing Software For Autopilot Trips Between Seattle & San Francisco

March 25th, 2015 by  

Elon Musk’s promise to deliver a fully functional self-driving car within the near future appears to have some truth to it — it seems to have not been an exaggeration, in other words (despite his habit of overstating things). The company has reportedly begun testing software that will allow the Model S to “drive itself” all the way from San Francisco to Seattle.

In other words, all 800 miles of that long trip you could be doing something else entirely, rather than driving. But by “you,” what I really mean is people fortunate enough to have a Model S. The rest of us will just have to salivate, I suppose… for now anyway.


The new autopilot software is seemingly set to drive with the firmware 7.0 update coming later this year — but as testing is still ongoing, that may very well change. According to Musk, though, everything is going quite well. It’s already possible for the system to travel the full 800 miles between the two cities with extremely minimal driver feedback.

Our sister site Gas2 provides a bit more info:

While technically the system can go from one parking lot to another, it is primarily tasked with navigating the Model S on the freeway, where an advanced Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system keeps the car in its lane, while still being able to pass slower drivers. Having seen Tesla’s ACC system in action already, it’ll be interesting to see just how much better it can get. People are really into the idea of a self-driving Tesla it seems.

But wait, there’s more! Musk also announced that Tesla will include new blind spot warning and emergency braking features in the next update to improve overall safety. For P85D owners, the promised “valet mode” that limits power, torque, and access to personal information should sound especially promising. Even cooler is the promised ability to summon your Tesla to your location, so you no longer have to trudge across a parking lot like some common pleb.

That certainly does sound good. Here’s to hoping that it all arrives on time, rather than getting stuck in limbo for a while as the Model X has.

Image Credit: Tesla

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Offgridman

    “(despite his habit of overstating things)”
    Isn’t that a little unfair Mr Ayre? Granted there have been delay issues with models or features, but a lot of the misunderstandings come from the media taking his statements and using their own hypothesis of what they might mean.

    • Bob_Wallace

      There are a lot of nattering nabobs of negativity when it comes to Tesla.

      Tesla has been slower than anticipated in completing some tasks but have completed others far sooner than most anticipated. Tesla and Musk, like everyone else, cannot perfectly predict the future. They are going to make some mistakes and have some mistakes made for them (like the outside company that wasn’t able to build a strong enough drivetrain for the Roadster).

      People should look at the larger picture. This company came out of nowhere. Their first ‘totally produced’ car has been an astounding success. With their high performance, long range EV, Superchargers, and GigaFactory they are rapidly reshaping the automotive world.

      • Philip W

        Exactly my point. I’m actually amazed how fast Tesla is progressing considering they are such a young company and developing good cars is pretty difficult.

      • Offgridman

        Yes considering that Tesla is a new company and the quality of product that does end up being released the delays that have occurred would seem to be understandable and reasonable. That is why it seemed that James was being unfair to say that Musk has a habit of overstating things. To me it seems that most of the misunderstandings come from media extrapolation of his statements, but limited myself to saying that it was just a lot.

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