Tesla’s Musk ‘Hopes’ to Roll Out New Autopilot Version Wednesday

  • Latest software to be rolled out if no ‘last-minute issues’
  • Tesla Autopilot 8.0 uses radar, GPS to lower false alarms

Elon Musk “hopes” to introduce a new version of Tesla Motors Inc.’s Autopilot software on Wednesday, while the automaker remains under scrutiny for a fatal crash in May.

Tesla will roll out the newest version of the Autopilot software “if no last-minute issues discovered,” Musk said in a Twitter post. He had said this week that the latest version’s emphasis on radar and a GPS database over cameras to guide cars might have saved the life of a driver who was killed when his all-electric Tesla Model S sedan drove under a semi trailer that was crossing a Florida highway.

The biggest change in Autopilot version 8.0 is a new starring role for radar, which since October 2014 has only been used to supplement camera sensors, Musk said in a blog post Sunday. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla is upgrading the software, which automatically rolls out to customers over the airwaves.

Tesla has said Autopilot version 8.0 should now recognize objects like trucks crossing the road, piles of junk metal -- even “a UFO” -- and would know enough not to hit it, even if the system can’t decipher exactly what it’s seeing. Instead of being supplemental to the camera, the blog post stated that radar alone “can be used as a primary control sensor.”

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