Tesla to release software update with Autopilot feature on October 15 image

The youngest and smallest publicly traded US automaker might jump ahead of the competition and deliver the most advanced self-driving feature through an over the air software update on Thursday Oct.15.

Tesla’s chief executive officer and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk took to his usual way of delivering the news – a post on Twitter – which in a few words encompassed what could be a major leap towards the introduction of autonomous technology. The company will introduce on Thursday Oct. 15 the software v7.0 – which, among other tweaks – most importantly also includes the Autopilot feature for the Model S luxury electric sedan. The update has already been sent to beta testers (some 600-700 tech savvy users in the US and parts of Europe) and is extremely anticipated: coming with a major UI design update and the new Autopilot, which actually encompasses several features. These include automated steering, self lane change activated by the use of the turn signal and auto-parking into parallel spaces.

Since August the company has been testing the feature that has been anticipated by many for over a year and as such, we already know how it works. For starters, the Autopilot will obviously only be available as a software update to users that have bought the Model S since the fourth quarter of 2014 – because these cars have the necessary hardware: forward-looking camera, radar and 360 degree sonar sensors among others. They already enabled another feature – the Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC) – coupled with the former the auto-steering in v7.0 will enable the hands free highway driving. The car will highlight when all conditions are met and after two touches of the cruise control lever the driver can allow the car to steer itself. The beta testers have also observed the feature to allow autonomous driving in city conditions, but it’s still unknown if the official build wouldn’t come with some restrictions for enhanced safety.