Tesla Rolls Out Autopilot Upgrade for Newer Vehicles

Recently-built Model S and Model X Teslas can now steer themselves at up to 80 mph.

byWill Sabel Courtney|
Tesla Rolls Out Autopilot Upgrade for Newer Vehicles


Many Tesla buyers take pride in their vehicles' cutting-edge features. But for buyers of Teslas made since last fall, many of the company's most innovative tech tidbits, such as the Autopilot suite of semi-autonomous driving features, have been off-limits—locked out as Elon Musk's car company has fine-tuned the second-generation of its self-driving hardware.

Until now, that is. Tesla has begun sending its cars a software update that promises to bring many of the company's Autopilot features to new Model S and Model X vehicles.

The over-the-air software update, which Tesla began pushing to cars in the United States on Wednesday before sending it to models elsewhere , brings many of the company's somewhat-self-driving abilities to the newer cars. The 8.1 software update allows the Autosteer feature to work at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour instead of 55, making it suitable for highway use almost everywhere in America; it enables Lane Departure Warning and Auto Lane Change, which lets Teslas on Autopilot change lanes with the flick of a turn signal; and it activates the Summon feature that lets users move their Teslas forwards and backwards at low speeds via remote control.

The new software update also brings a few non-Autopilot related changes, including the ability to adjust the headrests, a new feature that piles your favorite songs from Tesla's Internet radio into one playlist, and the Model X-exclusive abilities to manipulate the opening height of the Falcon doors and deactivate the "easy entry" feature. 

And as is becoming tradition for Tesla, the carmaker embedded an Easter egg in the latest software, which Elon Musk teased on Twitter:

Doing so, it turns out, transforms the Tesla's giant center console touchscreen into a sketch pad.