Tesla firmware update improves Autopilot, range estimation

Last year, Tesla publicly parted ways with autonomous component maker Mobileye, after it became clear that Mobileye saw itself as the Microsoft to Tesla's IBM in the future autonomous car market, prompting Tesla to begin developing its own solution.

Tesla Vision became the foundation of "Autopilot V2" which has shipped on all Tesla vehicles since late 2016 with mixed results. While progress has been steady, it has yet to reach the performance level of Mobileye-based Autopilot 1.

This week, Tesla began rolling out version 17.32 to its customer base. The official improvements include better auto-dimming, more accurate range calculations, and more.

While not mentioned in the official update, our tests conclude significant improvements to Autopilot 2. The radar-based car ahead of the car in front vision has returned, and its ability to keep within its lane is noticeably better. However, it is still substantially inferior to Autopilot 1 in terms of information displayed, object detection, lane keeping and traffic aware cruise control.

Our analysis is that Tesla Vision 2 has difficulty doing real-time lane marker detection, despite having far better hardware than the Mobileye solution. The new version is better at avoiding false positives than the previous version which reduces the number of sudden braking incidents, but is still not something we'd recommend using on local streets (unlike Autopilot 1).

Still, Tesla's progress on its Tesla Vision effort is impressive. We believe it will exceed the quality of Autopilot 1 by the end of 2017. We do not, however, believe that "Enhanced" let alone "Full Self-Driving" is anywhere on the near-term horizon.

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