Tesla’s new Firmware v8.1 update has brought with it a number of major improvements to the Autopilot feature, improved control of the Model X’s falcon-wing doors, some new voice controls, and a headrest adjustment feature, amongst other things.
The release is particularly notable, as it brings the Autopilot features of the company’s Hardware 2.0 vehicles to parity with those featuring the first-generation suite of self-driving tech.
To put that perhaps more clearly, Hardware 2.0 vehicles (Tesla sedans and SUVs produced since last autumn) are now (or will be) equivalent to Hardware 1.0 vehicles as far as Autopilot features go — with Summon, Auto Lane Change, Lane Departure Warning, and improved Autosteer all arriving with the new update.
For an idea of why this matters, watch the video below (showing a much improved Hardware 2.0 Autopilot experience).
Here’s a longer one as well:
As noted by our friends over at Teslarati (in reference to the first video above): “At first glance the update looks similar to any other Autopilot video, however it isn’t until the driver enters a busy Southern California freeway that we begin to see the improvements made to the latest 8.1 software. The Model S is seen handling lane changes smoothly on its own, via a flick of the turn signal, and keeping to its lane without experiencing the ‘Tesla dancing lines’ that have plagued earlier versions of Autopilot 2.0 Autosteer. Though version 8.1 seems to navigate freeway conditions with more confidence, it’s still not on par with Tesla’s first generation Autopilot. One can see this behavior at the end of the video.”
While some will probably use the fact that first-gen Autopilot still seems to be somewhat smoother than Autopilot in Hardware 2.0 vehicles as an opportunity for a cheap shot, the reality is that the new Hardware 2.0 vehicle Autopilot system is very different from the first-gen system, and has been built pretty much from the ground up at Tesla. With that in mind, the speed of improvement has if anything been impressive.
With regard to the other changes, Teslarati provides more: “Model X owners have also been given finer control of the vehicle’s Falcon Wing doors. A new setting allows the dual-hinged and often times ‘showy’ doors open to a lower height. According to the release notes: ‘When set to LOW, the Falcon Wing doors always open to a lower height. If the vehicle is outside in bad weather, the lower height shields the interior and passengers as they get in and out. It’s also useful if you want to make a less showy arrival.’
“An Easy Entry feature in v8.1 allows a driver to disable the one-press automatic seat adjustment of the second row. The back of the Model X seat has a toggle button that will fully incline and decline the second row seat in order to allow for ease of entry into the third row.”
As well as those changes, the v8.1 update also introduces the ability to use voice control to do a map search of businesses that you’re interested in patronizing — restaurants, drug stores, Tesla stores, etc. The map will apparently now show info on store hours and ratings directly on the navigation screen.
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