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2015 Is the Future: Tesla Cars Are Getting Autopilot in a Software Update in Just Three Months

The future of the '80s is finally here.

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There was an urban legend when I was growing up about someone who thought “cruise control” was autopilot in their RV, turned it on, and went in the back to make a sandwich. Tesla Motors is set to make that tall tale obsolete in the coming months with a real autopilot mode for its cars to drive themselves down the highway.

The feature falls short of full self-driving, which many companies are working to create and would potentially remove the need for a human to do more in a car than set a destination. Tesla’s autopilot is a lot more like the perfection of cruise control: on the highway, it’ll automatically steer your vehicle to keep it on course. That way, you’ll be able to do more to entertain yourself on long highway trips than sing along to your music embarrassingly emphatically.

According to Tech Crunch, Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk said of the feature on a press call today,

We’re pretty excited about the progress we’re making there. The main test route that we’re evaluating is the San Francisco to Seattle route, and we’re now almost able to travel all the way from San Francisco to Seattle without the driver touching any controls at all.

That’s a feature that requires a lot of validation testing, but we’re hoping that we can start releasing the first sort of auto-steering features in about three months or so.

Tesla Model S owners will be able to get the update when it’s available in a few months as long as they sprang for the extra “optional tech” package when they spent a bunch of money on their bananas future-car. He also mentioned that new updates would come with a feature that warns a driver if they’re about to go farther from the nearest charging station than they have power to drive back to end “range anxiety” in the electric vehicles.

So the Tesla cars are kind of becoming the sentient robot transportation buddy we’ve always wanted. Really, they’ll even be able to drive up to you when “summoned” with the push of a button, but that feature isn’t ready—or legal—for public roads. Yet. Now if only they built Mr. Feeny’s voice into them…

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