Tesla to Begin Rolling Out Next-Gen Autopilot Starting Today

Bringing the newest Teslas a little closer to that self-driving future Elon Musk has promised. 

A handful of next-generation Autopilot features are trickling into some Tesla vehicles today through an over-the-air software update, according to CEO Elon Musk, with widespread adoption of the technology possible by week's end.

The software update introduces a few more Enhanced Autopilot features to 1,000 vehicles, and will operate in "shadow mode" for the rest of the fleet to gather additional data. If all goes well, Musk wrote on Twitter, the software will switch into "active mode" for the entire fleet by the end of the week.

The update brings adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and speed-restricted Autosteer to vehicles equipped with Version 2 of the hardware pack (a.k.a. HW2) that was introduced last October. A Twitter follower asked if the update would enable Model S vehicles equipped with HW2 to use Autosteer at highway speeds, and Musk replied, "Longitudinal control will, but lateral (steering) control will cap at 35 mph for a bit longer. Will raise after full fleet data rolls in."

This means that the electric luxury sedans and SUVs will receive adaptive cruise control, but won't be able to change lanes at speeds higher than 35 mph until the company compiles more test data from the entire fleet. Although vehicles equipped with hardware pack 2 have more cameras and sensors that those with hardware pack version 1, they currently enjoy fewer autopilot capabilities.

However, incremental software updates are introducing more features to bring them in line with hardware version 1-equipped vehicles as they become validated by the auto manufacturers, and eventually will be able to offer full autonomous driving, according to Tesla. In what may be a response to Faraday Future's recent video comparing the FF 91 to the Model S, the software update also introduces Ludicrous+, which drops the the 0-60 mph time for the Tesla P100D to 2.4 seconds, according to Gizmodo. The 0-60 mph time for the FF 91 is 2.39 seconds, according to FF.

Software version 8.1 of Tesla's automotive operating system was originally expected to roll out fleet-wide (including to cars running earlier hardware) by the end of 2016, but has yet to be released. Musk recently tweeted that he expects the roll-out to be complete by the end of this month