Last October, Tesla rolled out a more advanced hardware suite for its Autopilot semi-autonomous driving program. This hardware will eventually allow for full autonomy, Tesla promises. But in the meanwhile, the technology is being put on a rather short leash.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk that Autopilot will be rolling out to cars equipped with the company's newest hardware suite, dubbed HW2, via over-the-air updates. This new version of Autopilot comes with Autosteer functionality that is limited to a top speed of 45 mph. Additionally, some cars equipped with HW2 will need their cameras calibrated at a Tesla service center to enable Autopilot capability.
that HW2-equipped cars will now also gain forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control, but the latter of those features is limited to a top speed of 75 mph. Previously, HW2 Teslas did not offer adaptive cruise control.
This software update brings HW2 Teslas closer to parity with their predecessors, i.e., vehicles built from September of 2014 to mid-October 2016. But the newest vehicles are still missing some key features offered on earlier models, like autonomous emergency braking. Again, this new, more-advanced hardware is promised to enable full autonomy at some point, but the software isn't yet ready for public consumption, according to Tesla.
Yes, this puts folks with the newest Teslas to roll off the assembly line at a features disadvantage compared to those with models purchased more than a year ago. That's a puzzling scenario for any purchase, but especially when it comes to vehicles that command more than $70,000.
Musk says Tesla will eventually raise the speed limits on Autosteer and adaptive cruise control in HW2-equipped vehicles, but it needs to collect more user data first. That means it could be some time before Teslas built after October 20th, 2016 reach parity with Autopilot-equipped Teslas built prior.