April 4th, 2019 by Kyle Field
Tesla never stops moving, and its software is the most dynamic part of the machine. This week, Tesla announced via a blog post that it is rolling out a more polished version of its popular Navigate-on-Autopilot feature that includes an option to automatically change lanes, without confirmation from the driver.
The new functionality comes as an option for drivers, who can now select to have automatic lane changes with Navigate-on-Autopilot (NoA) enabled by default at the start of a new navigation route, with a notification to manually prompt the driver to enable the feature at the start of every trip or to require a confirmation from the driver for every lane change.
Lane change confirmation can be manually overridden, allowing the car to change lanes on its own. Of course, drivers need to remain alert and able to take over control of the vehicle as the change does not make it a fully autonomous vehicle.
Early reports from Tesla owners indicate that the new Navigate-on-Autopilot is being deployed in version 2019.9.5 to a select group of Tesla’s Early Access Program.
Tesla said in the blog post announcing the new NoA features that drivers have already logged a mind boggling 66 million miles using NoA, with more than 9 million successful lane changes (with confirmation) in that time.
I’m personally curious how many lane changes have been cancelled in that time, as I have had a few instances where Autopilot attempted to merge into a gap that another car was simultaneously trying to merge into from an adjacent lane.
Either way, the decision to roll out automagical lane changes is a sign that Tesla’s confidence in its lane change logic is robust enough to be rolled into production. The company said that its Early Access Program members have already put more than half a million miles on the new solution, which speaks to the power of Tesla’s phased validation and deployment of its software.
Each and every software update and subversion is meticulously tracked by avid Tesla followers, revealing some of the nuances underpinning Tesla’s software deployment strategy. Rolling out iterative software revisions to different groups of users allows Tesla to validate new functionality, while simultaneously comparing it to other revisions before sending updates out to the masses.
Tesla recently restructured its Autopilot software package offerings, which moved the Navigate-on-Autopilot functionality from the base Enhanced Autopilot package into the Full Self Driving package. The new functionality will be rolled out to owners who purchased the Enhanced Autopilot package or who purchased the current Autopilot and Full Self Driving packages.