Watch Tesla's new 'Mad Max' autonomous lane-change mode in action

Tesla's updated Software Version 9 can make autonomous lane changes for passing slower cars and for maneuvering the vehicle onto different routes per the navigation system.

Manuel Carrillo III Automotive Reviews Editor
A Porsche 911 S brought Manuel Carrillo III home from the hospital after he was born, so it's no surprise his lifelong trajectory has centered on cars, leading him to a robust career creating rich automotive media for publications prior to joining CNET.

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Manuel Carrillo III
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2018 Tesla Model 3 Performance
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As we've seen with the hurdles has had to face with Level 3 autonomy in the 2019 A8, we here in North America will have to wait a while longer than the rest of the world before we can enjoy the benefits of that advanced technology.

But that isn't stopping Tesla from creeping closer to autonomy with its most recent Software Version 9 update. One of the update's more exciting features is that it will allow Tesla vehicles to initiate lane changes on their own without driver input. Drivers can even select how aggressively the car can enact its lane changes, from the demure "Mild" mode to the most zealous and creatively named "Mad Max" mode.

In current versions of Autopilot, a Tesla driver has to activate a turn signal to get the car to change lanes, so long as the Tesla has enough space in the adjacent lane to move into it.

With Software Version 9, if a Tesla encounters a slower-moving vehicle in its path and there are no cars in the passing lane, the Tesla can initiate a lane-change on its own by activating the turn signal and proceeding to move into the passing lane, thus maintaining the driver's set cruising speed.

Of course, this is not a Level 3 system. The driver is still required to keep his or her hands on the steering wheel at all times, yet this remains an exciting next step in the race to an autonomous future.

As spotted through Teslarati, Tesla owner Jasper Nuyens has released a few demonstration videos of Mad Max mode activated on an evening drive in the Netherlands. There are few other cars on the road during his journey, so we're unable to witness how aggressively his Tesla can make autonomous lane changes, but in his second demonstration video, we can see the car change lanes to help Nuyens remain on the intended route he has set in the navigation system.

Interestingly, Nuyens says, "I would even say that the system forces you to pay more attention than with traditional Autopilot." That's because, according to Nuyens, his car has attempted to merge into lanes that are either closed or nonexistent. Yet another reason to keep both hands on the wheel.