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Tesla's 8.1 update raises Autosteer speed, enables Summon

These software tweaks apply to vehicles with Autopilot 2.0 hardware, which entered production last year.


As Elon Musk promised in a tweet last week, Tesla's 8.1 software update is deploying to owners packing the latest version of its hardware, and there are more than a few tweaks to discuss.

The chief concern of the 8.1 software update is to increase the capability of the Autopilot 2.0 cars, enabling and enhancing driver-assistance features. One of the major improvements in 8.1 is the increase in Autosteer speed. Now, it will work up to 80 mph, having been limited to 55 mph in the 8.0 update.

However, before owners will be able to take advantage of the higher Autosteer speed limit, cars will require a camera calibration. Thankfully, that's apparently done automatically, requiring several days' worth of driving on highways with clear markings. Autosteer will still work up to 55 mph until that calibration is complete.

Autopilot 2.0 cars come with eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a forward-facing radar. No lidar though.


Another Autopilot 1.0 feature now making its way to 2.0 vehicles is Auto Lane Change. This works with Autosteer and adaptive cruise control, requiring only a flick of the turn signal stalk to change lanes. It's off by default, and must be switched on in the settings menu.

Summon is also now available for Autopilot 2.0. Formerly only available on Autopilot 1.0 cars, Summon allows you to park and retrieve your car using the keyfob, Tesla's mobile app or a double-tap of the Park button on the gearshift. It must be within 39 feet of the intended parking space, and Tesla is quick to remind its users that it should only be used on private property and to be wary of obstacles.

Also, when lane departure warning is active, the steering wheel will vibrate if the driver crosses over a lane marking without an active turn signal.

There are other, smaller updates for both Autopilot 1.0 and 2.0 cars. The Model X can disable the automatic seat adjustment for the second row, and the default opening height for its "Falcon" doors can be lowered. Selecting a business on the navigation system will show its Google rating and hours of operation. Front seat headrests can now be adjusted by using the button that adjusts the lumbar support, as well.

On October 19, 2016, Elon Musk announced that all cars produced after that date would come equipped with Autopilot 2.0, a suite of hardware and software improvements that would eventually enable full autonomy (SAE Level 5). Autopilot 2.0 cars launched with many features disabled, choosing to enable them over time as the systems worked in the background to gather data.

For now, the 8.1 update is only available to North American owners. It will be rolled out worldwide in the coming days.

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