Tesla Autopilot Version 8.0 Revealed: Huge Upgrades Expected Including Radar As Primary Sensor

Sep 12, 2016 05:20 AM EDT | Mariechris Felipe

Elon Musk is working against the clock in Tesla. Even Sundays are working days as the founder of the company announced through a conference call that the latest update on Tesla Autopilot 8.0 will feature a far more intelligent radar. Musk believes that the update could have prevented the fatal accident that happened last May.

Tesla Autopilot Death

The first Tesla fatal accident was reported last May when a man crashed into a tractor-trailer while driving his Tesla with the Autopilot feature on. He died on the spot and this fatal accident has prompted the company to improve its system. Although there are many other Tesla accident reports, this is the only one that's proven to have its Autopilot system on.

“These things cannot be said with absolute certainty, but we believe it is very likely that, yes, it would have prevented the accident,” Elon Musk said.

"The new version of Autopilot, with its improved radar would see a large metal object across the road” and be able to determine that the object is not an overpass or overhead road sign that poses no threat. Impact probability would be assessed as high and it would probably brake.” 

An Intelligent Radar That Will Increase Safety

The Autopilot 8 will feature an intelligent radar. The physical component has been in the company's cars since October 2014, but will now take a leading role in the operation. Tesla will do this without adding new parts or additional cameras, but with an improved artificial intelligence software instead.

Huge changes will happen with the intelligent radar. For one, the car will now require drivers to refrain from taking their hands off the steering wheel for long periods of time. A more precise use of radar to recognize potential obstacles in the road will also be initiated. It will now learn to distinguish between traffic signals, traffic lights or Christmas decorations. It will be able to discern these details in rain, fog or dust.

With Autopilot Version 8.0, Tesla cars will now learn and think faster. Tesla will gather information from each vehicle the car passes, usual routes, incidents that happened and more. The more data the cars acquire, the more efficient the system will be.

Musk was cautious but at the insistence of several journalists, finally acknowledged that this innovation would have come sooner to their cars, probably in two to four weeks.

Musk said that this development has taken more than a year of work and has had to knock down some barriers internally to make it happen. Some of his technicians even said it could not be done and it will take time. But Musk knew it would make a huge difference and he made it work as soon as possible.

With the car market saturated and moving at an extremely rapid pace, security is one of the basic pillars that a manufacturer must address. Tesla has come under scrutiny since the crash and this update can be its redemption.

"There is no perfect security. That's an illusion, but we can strive to improve. There will never be a rate of zero accidents, but we want to minimize the number of deaths" Elon Musk said.

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