Full self-driving coming to Autopilot soon - but how about those Roadster rockets!

Tesla-related news items are shooting out of the media machine faster than battery cells out of Elon Musk’s “alien dreadnought” - it’s impossible for even the keenest observer to keep up. For Tesla owners however, perhaps the most significant recent news was the announcement that the eagerly awaited Autopilot version 9 software upgrade, scheduled for August, will include “full self-driving features.”

Above: Elon Musk recently teased that Tesla is working on a new blind spot "Mad Max" threshold mode for Autopilot (Twitter: @jongold / @elonmusk)

As yet, no details are on offer. Tesla’s web site says that it is not possible to know when each element of the functionality will be available, as this depends on local regulatory approval. Will a "Mad Max mode" be included?

“To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features,” Musk tweeted.

Above: Tesla's Autopilot (Image: Charged)

Drivers have been complaining about Autopilot’s lane-merging performance, an issue that Musk says will be “fully fixed” in the update.

So much for the practical stuff - here’s a fun goodie that Musk teased during the recent shareholders’ meeting: a SpaceX option package for the new Roadster, which he said will include “~10 small rocket thrusters arranged seamlessly around car. These rocket engines dramatically improve acceleration, top speed, braking & cornering. Maybe they will even allow a Tesla to fly...”

Above: Some speculation on Tesla's 'SpaceX option package' which will be available with the Roadster 2020 (Youtube: Everyday Astronaut)

Reactions were predictable, but Musk soon assured us that he is quite serious, and clarified that the “rocket thrusters” would operate on compressed air. Automakers have actually built concept vehicles powered by compressed air, so a Twitter user asked Elon about its potential as an energy storage medium. “Total energy stored even in ultra compressed air is low vs battery, but power output is insane,” Musk replied. “The composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) is most advanced ever made. It’s what SpaceX is qualifying for NASA crewed missions. Extremely robust - literally bulletproof.”


Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Reuters via Charged