Musk Says New Tesla Autopilot Update Would Have Saved Driver’s Life

A software upgrade means a better picture of the world around the vehicle
Elon Musk at the Tesla Model 3 unveiling event
The founder and CEO of Tesla personally introduced the company's new more affordable electric sedan at an event in March 2016. Tesla Motors/YouTube

Tesla is releasing a software update for the quasi-self-driving “autopilot” mode on its Model S electric sports cars.

The update will allow Tesla’s car autopilot system to use existing radar sensors on the Model S to form a more complete (and therefore more useful) picture of what’s happening around the vehicle, hopefully making it smarter and safer.

Tesla vehicles manufactured since October 2014 have carried onboard radar hardware, but the autopilot software has only been available since October of 2015.

The new update means radar will detect “six times” as many objects around the vehicle, according to Tesla.

Reuters reports that Tesla CEO Elon Musk thinks the update would have saved the life of the driver of a crashed Tesla Model S in May 2016.

In the preliminary findings of an investigation into that crash, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the driver of the car was speeding. Tesla has said the crash was caused by a failure of both the driver and its autopilot system to recognize a brightly lit tractor trailer, and Elon Musk has also defended his company on Twitter.