Tesla Motors (TSLA) Stock Soars and Autopilot Makes a Giant Leap

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Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock has seen significant gains so far this month. After adding an impressive $10 per share on Wednesday the stock is trading in pre-market this morning at $226. The stock began the year trading at just under $212 per share. The run up has surprised many as the automaker just reported that they missed their delivery targets for Q4. That clearly hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm for the stock.

Tesla Autopilot Improves

CEO Elon Musk is allowing around 1000 customers to try out the most recent version of Autopilot. For the automaker, this update is just one more step towards fully self-driving vehicles. Only 1000 customers are getting the Autopilot software upgrade to ensure that glitches, if any, are eliminated before the software is rolled out to all customers, says a report from USA Today.

The update includes new features to Tesla’s partial self-driving system. Some of the updates are still in beta mode, and are explained to customers with cautionary language that in several cases require drivers to not only grip the steering wheel, but also stay vigilant, notes USA Today.

Now, the Enhanced Autopilot has Forward Collision Warning that enables the driver to set the distance at which they want to alerted with a sound that a collision could happen, as per a report by Electrek. Another feature, Traffic-Aware Cruise Control lets the car slow down or speed up based on traffic around it.  Also, there is a Low-Speed Autosteer in which the car inches along in traffic while staying centered in a lane by using lane markings.

Tesla’s new system is being activated for only limited customers and is codenamed “Autopilot HW2, or Hardware 2.” This is a reference to the Tesla EVs built after October that come equipped with ultrasonic sensors, advanced radar, and cameras.

Musk, after initiating the Version 8.1 software update over the weekend, tweeted that the automaker would then hold to ensure “no field issues and upload to rest of fleet next week.”

Tesla takes a big step towards self-driving

Throughout last year, the EV firm was in the limelight because of several accidents both in the United States and abroad related to compromised operation or improper use of Autopilot software.

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Autopilot
Source: Tesla Motors Inc

The incident most publicized happened last May, when Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) owner Joshua Brown died after his Model S plowed into a truck that was crossing its path. The Autopilot system of the car did not see the white side of the truck as an object, and did not apply the brakes. Federal regulators are investigating the accident now.

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO says that its new HW2 generation vehicles pack so many sophisticated sensors that eventually by the end of 2017, they will be able to provide completely autonomous driving capability. In its 8.1 update, the electric carmaker noted that the deployment will be measured and cautious until they have “generated confidence across several hundred million miles of real-world usage.”

In the coming months, we are expected to see big strides in self-driving car tech, as names like Uber, Ford, Google, Volvo, Fiat Chrysler and others try to surprise customers with autonomous car features.

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