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Dashcam and ‘Mad Max’ Autopilot could come to Tesla cars this year

Published: 26 June 2018

► Could arrive in v9.0 software later this year
► New features, existing hardware
► Will be included on all future Model 3s too 

Tesla’s next software update may effectively give a free dashcam to every Model S and Model X owner – and it could be coming as early as this summer. The EV company has been planning to roll out a feature which unlocks hardware usually used for Tesla Autopilot for use as a dashcam, and Elon Musk has suggested it’ll be here this year.  

When asked about the ETA of the dashcam feature, the Tesla CEO tweeted ‘hopefully in V9.0 release in a few months.’

Autonomous car levels explained

Each Tesla comes with a total of eight cameras, and while they’re currently used for the car’s semi-autonomous functions, there’s no reason they can’t also be made to record driving footage for the driver's benefit.

Tesla Model S cameras

It’s not clear where the data will be stored – in a USB stick for example – or how the new feature will be integrated into the existing software, but we’d expect to find it somewhere on the settings screen.

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Mad Max?

But a virtual dashcam isn’t the only feature that could be coming soon. Elon Musk has also revealed Tesla is working on a Mad Max setting for Autopilot. Simply put, it’s to do with level of blindspot sensitivity the system has when changing lanes. Instead of a rather comfortable threshold, Tesla is testing more aggressive algorithms for different traffic situations, and Mad Max is the most cut-throat.

Musk even tweeted a picture of the setting (below), which is not yet available to do Tesla’s drivers. The Tesla CEO joked the company, ‘considered going beyond Mad Max to “LA Freeway” level, but that’s too loco.’

Tesla Mad Max mode: under development for Autopilot, according to Elon Musk

Of course, the idea of a more aggressive semi-autonomous car isn’t a great one, and neither is the possibility that it could be bullied by other, human drivers. To combat those situations, Elon Musk suggested that the update could add ‘a manual override that requires continuous press for hardcore lane changes.’

Tesla's techy approach

Tesla’s unique tech-company approach to car development often attracts criticism, but its update strategy has also earned it droves of fans – and this is another example of why. Each Tesla already comes with the hardware for a dashcam, and therefore the decision to bring it in an update makes perfect sense.

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The idea of adding different levels of sensitivity for blindspot detection is sound – we’d have welcomed it when testing the Model X – but it’s not something you’d expect a company to do this long after a car's launch.

Even if these features become payable upgrades, Tesla’s ethos of improving cars is something that still sets it apart from other car makers. And that’s a good thing... in this case.

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By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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