Today's Top News: Tesla Jumps Aheads with a Truly 'Silk Smooth' Autopilot Update

Tesla Jumps Aheads with a Truly 'Silk Smooth' Autopilot Update

Some drivers give Tesla's Autopilot update released this week rave reviews, after version 8.1 has taken longer than expected to live up to Elon Musk's "smooth as silk" Tweet from earlier this year.

With this update, drivers report noticeable improvements in Tesla models' driverless features, especially when changing lanes and rounding curves, with reportedly less jerky lateral movements and more precise self-steering (we have not yet tested the vehicle to see for ourselves how much better it is).

The latest version of Autopilot 8.1 is described in the release note that appears on Tesla S, X, and 3 model center screens as "2017.28," which corresponds to the 28th week in the year, and is code-named "c528869."

A dealership representative could not confirm the schedule for the over-the-air update outside the US, while a Tesla spokesperson could not comment. However, a Tesla spokesperson downplayed the significance, noting "updates happen all the time so we tend not to do announcements unless it's a big feature user-interface change" in an email response.

After Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk tweeted in May that the new updated Autopilot version was "smooth as silk," it took several weeks before the new version of Autopilot became as good as the previous one.

Model S and Model X Tesla models the electric car firm began to make October 16 last year lacked certain Autopilot driverless features that models produced prior to that date already had.

The issue of Tesla's struggle to bring the new version of Autopilot up to speed began when Tesla revamped the underlying hardware configuration for its models' driverless function. This followed a split with Mobileye, which offered camera sensors for Tesla driverless systems in Tesla cars until October 2016. Tesla's new version of Autopilot without the Mobileye cameras relies more heavily on radar sensors.

Tesla has thus shown it is at least actively engaged in improving Autopilot's features in ways the company says will enable Tesla to offer Level 3 self-driving by when laws and regulations allow for its rollout in cars sold in retail channels.

Meanwhile, the main takeaway is that for early adopters, even before the release of the new Autopilot update this week, is that new Tesla models offer the most-advanced driverless experience you can buy in retail channels and Tesla will continue to make improvements to the industry's most-advanced Level 2 on offer in retail channels.

Lyft to Build and Test Its Own Level 5 Cars

Lyft has opened a testing center in Palo Alto, Calif. where it says it will design and make its own "Level 5" systems, as the ride-sharing company joins the ranks of Waymo, Cruise, Argo, and Uber by designing its own driverless systems.

Lyft plans to will integrate its driverless "kits" into existing car models and to offer its driverless platform to "the world's leading automotive and technology companies onto this single platform to serve a nationwide passenger network."

The company's debut of an open platform for driverless vehicles it offered potential partners earlier this year lead up to today's announcement, Luc Vincent, vp of engineering at Lyft, wrote in a blog post for Medium.

This news builds on the announcement we made earlier this year, when we created the world's first open self-driving platform. Lyft's self-driving vehicles will operate on that network, alongside vehicles introduced by Lyft partners. In the years ahead, we will continue to bring the world's leading automotive and technology companies onto this single platform to serve a nationwide passenger network. And together, we will continue to drive toward a single, shared objective: to build the world's best transportation ecosystem.

Continental Reportedly Buys Stake in Mapping Firm

Germany-based Continental, a leading auto component supplier, is buying an 8% to 10% stake in HERE, a mapping firm controlled by BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen, according to Manager Magazin. The German carmakers purchased HERE for 2.8 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in 2015 from Finnish telecom provider Nokia.

Elsewhere in the News

BMW strengthens its reach in Silicon Valley as it invests $38 million for online startup Shift. A US government agency might okay driverless cars in a similar way to how the FDA approves new drugs.

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