Tesla Motors Inc Tesla Motors Inc isn’t the first firm to make a car steer itself on the highway, but judging by the response to the firm’s 7.0 Autopilot software release it could be the one that makes the biggest splash. Early reviews of the Autopilot system have been popping up on tech blogs all across the web on Thursday morning. There appears to be a warm glow around the Tesla Motors achievement.
Autopilot, as part of update 7.0 for the Model S, will begin to roll out on Thursday. It’s not clear how quickly the update is going to roll out or whether some places will be preferred to others. What is clear is that almost everyone who gets a go in an Autopilot-armed Tesla Motors Model S is going to get a major surprise, and it may change the way cars work forever.
Here’s how Autopilot went down
A few members of the press were invited to use the Autopilot system before the initial launch and more than one of them posted their reaction to the new, improved Tesla Model S software on Thursday morning. Here’s what they had to say about Tesla Motors’ newest weapon in the war for the highway.
Greg Kumparak of TechCrunch said that the system, in the short time he had with it, lived up to expectations. “At no point during our test did it feel like the car was doing anything unsafe, nor did I ever feel like I couldn’t immediately retake control”, he wrote.
That doesn’t mean it was perfect, however, Kumparak said that more than once, “things that I was expecting to happen just… didn’t. I’d tell the car to switch lanes; instead, it just stayed its course, keeping me perfectly in the lane I was already in.”
Emily Price of Fast Company also a good experience with the software. She said that “Trying it out is admittedly a bit unnerving. Driving on highway 280, I found myself reaching for the wheel when turns in the road appeared, something the car was capable of handling on its own, and it did with ease. Lane changes bring up a similar semi-anxious feeling, but happen more smoothly.”
Everyone who tested the car, and everyone who is going to get a go in the coming weeks, is likely to feel the same sort of anxiety about releasing their control of the car.
The Tesla Motors Model S, from the early reviews, appears to be able to handle the technical aspects of self-driving with ease, but Tesla Motors may need to include software that eases a new driver into the experience. The firm was able to solve “range anxiety” earlier this year, but it has only managed to bring a new kind of anxiety into the minds of Tesla buyers.
That fear isn’t likely to last long, however, and Tesla will do everything in its power to endear the world to Elon Musk’s idea of the future.
Tesla Motors changes the world, again
There’s not much entirely new about the Autopilot system that will appear on the Model S on Thursday. Cars from Mercedes have been able to keep themselves in lane since before the dotcom bubble burst, and even Hyundai has a system that allows a driver to relax a little.
The only original feature appears to be lane changing. That allows the Model S to change lanes by itself with the press of the turn signal. The car is, says Tesla Motors, only really meant to be in Autopilot on the highway, and a driver has to keep their hands on the wheel, at least a little bit, in order to keep the system running.
That doesn’t mean Tesla Motors Inc isn’t making a contribution. The firm attracts so much attention from the press, because of the antics of CEO Musk, and the firm’s brand power, that today’s release, and the thousands of YouTube videos sure to arrive in the coming weeks, will do nothing but increase appreciation, and demand, for systems that take the burden of driving off of the driver.
That’s the way that Elon Musk sees the world going, and he’s not alone. Alphabet Inc is working on its own system to make cars drive themselves, as are Uber and Apple as well as a slew of traditional car makers and engineering firms.
Tesla Motors is the only firm that has both the hardware on the road and the ability to collect data and update software on a whim. That’s a powerful ability, and it’s one that other car makers just aren’t likely to catch up to any time soon.
Tesla Motors may only have a fairly standard self-driving system today, but in twelve months time, after the bugs are ironed out and the data has been collected and analyzed, the firm could have the single best system on the road. That’s the power of Tesla Motors, and it’s one of the many reasons that people are betting Elon Musk can really change the world.
Tesla Motors grants shares some reprieve
It’s not that the Model X launch went down badly, in fact the response to the car itself seems to have been good, it’s that the event showed that Tesla Motors just isn’t ready for the prime time. As far as anyone can tell there have been no units of the Model X sent out to buyers since that night, and it’s not clear when the next wave of SUVs will arrive.
That’s been a big problem for those with shares in Tesla Motors . The firm’s stock sold for $216.88 by the time the market closed on Wednesday. That’s down from a price of more than $260 right before the Model X reveal happened.
With the release of Autopilot, and what judging by the initial reviews is likely to be a great reaction to it, Tesla Motors may give those with shares a little time to relax. If the system works, and people like it, it’s going to be a boon to demand for years to come. It’s will also serve as a reminder that Tesla Motors is able to do things right, even if it doesn’t do them on time.
At time of writing, hours before the market opened on Wall Street, shares in Tesla Motors were selling for $218.60 in pre-market trading. That’s a bump of 0.79 percent over yesterday’s closing price. It’s also a signal that the market may feel a little more hopeful, or a little less anxious, now that Autopilot is out there.