Tesla Model S v6.2 and v7.0 software updates: self-steering cars and intelligent sat-nav

Published: 19 March 2015

► Tesla operating system v6.2
► Nav and ‘range anxiety’ release
► Sneak preview of v7.0, self-steering Teslas

Tesla today announced v6.2 of its operating system, which will be deployed over-the-air to let all Model S owners benefit from the latest updates – and gave a preview of its v7.0 OS.

Company founder Elon Musk revealed that Tesla would release new software updates ‘every three to four months’ and it seems clear that the Model S is well on the way to becoming an autonomous car.

Tesla’s next release, OS v6.2 which is available now in beta testing in the US, will allow electric car users to benefit from a slew of additional features without the need to attend a physical dealership:

Intelligent sat-nav Routing cars via the Tesla Supercharger network
Range anxiety feature Not letting cars stray out of EV range
Blindspot warning Sensors to warn of traffic in blindspots
Better radio reception Upgraded codec for better radio listening
Valet mode Limited throttle, torque and access to owner data
Improved throttle and brake pedal feel More natural pedal use

The UK’s best electric cars and EVs

Musk said the main purpose of the v6.2 release was to quash fears over range anxiety. ‘Most people with a Model S don’t have range anxiety, but it will help those who have not and who worry about running out of electricity,’ Musk said. The car won’t let you select a route where you are out of range of one of the company’s Superchargers – unless you say you are happy to divert out of range.

The Model S will now communicate with the fast-charge Supercharger network in real-time and find out which plug-in bays are free or not working, and route the car accordingly. If the beta tests are successful, the boss said the full release would be made ‘in about 10 days’ time.’

Tesla’s radical over-the-air software updates

Musk said his online updates were unique in the car market. ‘Our car is a very sophisticated computer on wheels,’ he said. ‘Tesla is as much a software company as a car company.’

In a nutshell, he neatly summarises his Silicon Valley world view and explains what makes Tesla different from other car makers.

He said that updates would continue to be offered for free to owners. 

More to come in Tesla v7.0 operating system

Musk whetted appetites of Tesla owners globally when he revealed that a major update would be available over summer 2015, when Tesla deployed v7.0 of its OS. Just in time for the new Model X SUV, which is due in the next few months.

In a ‘sneak peek’, Musk told CAR on a conference call that v7.0 would bring a ‘complete UI overhaul.’ That’s UI as in User Interface, or the giant screen that operates most of the Model S’s features.

Musk said that the UI would change radically, much as an iPhone’s screen layout has evolved over time. ‘The car is becoming more and more sensually aware – we are waking up the car,’ he told CAR. ‘We want an interface that reflects the way the car sees the world.’

Tesla’s v7.0 software update would bring auto-steering to market and Musk said engineers were already testing the tech on the roads from San Francisco to Seattle. When laws catch up, the car will be able to steer itself using a combination of detailed sat-nav and sensors onboard. ‘On private property, you will be able to press a button on your Tesla app and summon the car,’ he said. ‘Press it again and the car will drive back to the garage, park itself and close the door. It can even drive in the dark, underground.’

Welcome to the future of motoring…

Click here to read Tim Pollard blog on five reasons why the Tesla Model S changes everything.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet