Like Teslas rolling through parking lots on their own, the self-driving future is inching closer.
This week, Tesla owners began to experience new features of the company's long-promised next update to its self-driving system, including Enhanced Summon, which is one of the first features of Tesla's planned Full Self-Driving capability to be enabled. The new features also include warning drivers about upcoming red lights, and yielding to other cars signaling a merge into the lane ahead, as Teslas Navigate on Autopilot highway.
All of these are features that Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced last fall as part of the company's next "Version 3" Autopilot hardware and Version 9 software (now rolled into an update of Version 8.)
Tesla rolls out upgrades to customers cars gradually, so not all cars have the new capabilities yet.
Long Range Tesla Model 3 driver IV-Crush posted images on Reddit over the weekend showing a new red-light warning on his car's screen. If the car is approaching a red light with Autopilot engaged, it will warn the driver of the problem in the dashboard screen. An update message from Tesla in the car's center screen notes that the warning will not attempt to stop the car. Autopilot is not the same as Full Self-Driving and does not yet have the capability to stop for red lights.
A second video posted to Reddit by user privaterbok shows a Tesla Model 3 driven on Autopilot being polite by braking to let another car merge into the lane ahead of it, when the other car is signaling a lane change.
And several videos on YouTube show the first Tesla owners summoning their cars with their cell phones to come to them autonomously in parking lots—provided it's in the same parking lot—as Musk has been promising since 2014. The feature, called Enhanced Summon, is the first feature to be enabled as part of Tesla's Full Self-Driving Capability (following Navigate on Autopilot, which was first released as part of the Enhanced Autopilot system and has now been moved into the Full Self-Driving option.)
The features were all among those that Musk promised last year as part of the next over-the-air update to what was then called Enhanced Autopilot. He noted in an update call that for some of the features to work, the cars would need faster processor chips, and that the company was developing those chips to fit into its existing cars.
Now another site, Tesla-info.com, which tracks Tesla inventory, claims to show that some cars for sale from Tesla's inventory include the new Hardware 3 chip. Those cars are Model Ses and Model Xes, so it's unclear how many Model 3s may also have the new chip, if any. The inventory listings show what hardware the car comes with, and some recent builds are beginning to show that the cars have Autopilot Hardware 3 (listed in the spec sheets as "APHW4" rather than "APHW3," which was the version 2.5 update of Autopilot hardware.)
Last October, Musk said it would take about six months for the new chips to arrive, which puts them right on schedule to roll out this month.
The Autopilot updates aren't the only electronic updates Tesla is working on.
In a hacking competition over the weekend, a pair of hackers won a Tesla Model 3 after they compromised the car's built-in internet browser to display a message they had created.
Tesla responded to TechCrunch that it entered the car in the competition to give hackers a chance to find any such vulnerabilities and that it intends to release a software update to patch the vulnerability "in coming days."
Separately, Musk tweeted last week that the on-board browser will soon be "upgraded to Chromium," which elicited cheers from his Twitter followers.
Finally, faster Supercharging
On another forum, some users are showing that the latest upgrades to Superchargers are also taking effect. On Reddit privaterbok3000 showed charging screens from another Model 3 charging at up to 147 kilowatts at a Supercharger in Petaluma, California, significantly faster than the highest speeds of most Superchargers a few weeks ago.