Latest Tesla Model S software upgrade to help ease range anxiety

Article by Andrew Christian, on March 25, 2015

Ever heard of an intelligent electric car charging at an intelligent charging station? That may sound weird and so futuristic, but the reality is, that future is just days ahead. Tesla Motors and it chief executive Elon Musk, recently presented a solution to the range anxiety usually experienced by EV drivers.

The latest upgrade for the software that governs the Tesla Model S sedan, Version 6.2, adds two features -- Range Assurance and Trip Planner. These new features help ease the range anxiety by automatically planning charging stops using the navigation system and warning a driver if a road trip could to leave them stranded.

According to Tesla, the update was already downloaded to some customers for testing and will be out for a broad launch in around 10 days. Musk remarked that Tesla’s EVs will now be communicate in real time with its network of proprietary chargers called Superchargers.

He disclosed that information will be refreshed every 30 seconds, and should a charger won’t be available or a closer one goes online, the car will reprogram its navigation system to pick a faster route. “You’ve got intelligent charging stations and an intelligent car communicating dynamically in a big network,” Musk remarked.

Two years ago, The New York Times published an article about a journalist who claimed that a Model S run out of power during a drive up the East Coast. Musk rebutted, accusing the reporter of intentionally draining the car’s battery. Now, the latest software update would make it almost impossible for a Model S driver to “run out of range unintentionally.”

Version 6.2 also adds safety features, giving cars built since October – those with cameras and sensors -- will get automatic braking, blind-spot warning and side-collision warning. According to Musk, the carmaker plans to release a software update every three or four months, adding that Version 6.2 would be the last major revision to the current software package.

Tesla will release the next update, Version 7.0, later this year. It will include an auto-steering feature that will enable the car to steer itself on the highway. It will also feature a new user interface.

According to Musk, Tesla is using a route between San Francisco and Seattle to test the “auto-steering” feature. He noted that the car nearly managed to drive the route “without the driver touching any controls at all.”

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