Tesla has made a number of amazing innovations in automobile technology over the last few years. It makes cars that can travel hundreds of mile on a charge, see where other cards and obstacles are, and even receive critical over-the-air updates via LTE. That last item has proven to be a sticking point for Tesla this past week. An OTA update for the lower-cost Model 3 seems to have broken Autopilot for many users.
The Tesla Model 3 is aimed more at mainstream consumers with a starting price of $35,000. However, the version people actually want to buy with the premium interior and Autopilot costs upward of $50,000. Tesla Autopilot is one of the primary selling points of its vehicles. With a combination of radar and cameras, the car identifies its lane and detects objects around you. Thus, the vehicle can drive itself for long periods of time.
Tesla has been clear that Autopilot is only intended for brief use, and your hands need to be on the wheel. However, it’s apparently good enough that drivers get complacent. There have been myriad accidents and near misses for drivers using Autopilot, including some fatalities. Despite the danger, most Tesla owners consider Autopilot a must-have feature. So, people were understandably upset that when an OTA on Tuesday (9/11/18) broke Autopilot on the Model 3.
Tesla confirms the problem, saying “This is a currently known issue and our engineer team is hard at work resolving the problems that have occurred.” That statement comes from an email to a customer. The company has been slow to update owners publicly.
Those affected by the failure report that the OTA update fired off errors as soon as it installed including a notification that Autopilot would not work. The Model 3 urges owners to reach out to Tesla support. However, CEO Elon Musk does point out that deliveries have picked up considerably, and there are more people contacting support than ever before. It takes longer to get replies, but the company is working on streamlining the process.
Tesla originally promised an update just two days after the bad OTA. However, that didn’t happen. Allegedly, the fix should be rolling out now. Although, it’s unclear that anyone who was affected has resurrected Autopilot just yet.
This news comes just as Tesla finally hit its self-imposed shipping goals. Musk also caused a firestorm of criticism after claiming he had enough funding to take Tesla private but then backed off. Tesla certainly doesn’t need more continued bad press, so hopefully this Autopilot issue can be worked out quickly.
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