Today we’re getting into the latest Tesla news, including new features coming to all Teslas and the Model S, Model Y Texas Production updates, Model X refresh sightings, Autopilot investigations and FSD Beta updates, and more.
First up today, as we have heard for some time now, NHTSA is formally investigating Tesla’s autopilot system after multiple cars have crashed into parked emergency vehicles with their flashing lights on.
Since 2018, NHTSA said it had identified 11 crashes where Tesla vehicles have “encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles.”
As a result, it covers around 765,000 cars with this investigation, all of which include Tesla’s well-known, very functional Autopilot system.
In the grand scheme of things, that’s a small number of crashes, but now NHTSA is requesting advanced driver-assist data from 12 automakers as they seek to expand their Autopilot investigation.
“Automakers are being asked to provide the number of vehicles with Level 2 systems that have been manufactured in the US. As well as the total number of miles covered with those systems engaged, and a recent list of any changes or updates.”.
Tesla themselves have until October 22nd to hand over their own data, and other automakers like Ford, GM, and more have until November 3rd.
Then the rest, including Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, and Honda, have until November 17th. Failing to respond to these requests could result in civil penalties of up to $115 million.
It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this investigation, but overall the minimum might be some stricter driver monitoring requirements from every car with these features.
So far, Tesla has just required steering wheel turning force, which unfortunately can be tricked if somebody chooses to put themselves at risk and operate the vehicle incorrectly.
However, Tesla has begun using interior cameras in their cars. They are specifically using them for driver monitoring, which uses eye-tracking to know that you are paying attention and alert you.
This is a more robust system that can’t be tricked as easily, but it still can be, as car and driver demonstrated with every single car capable of driver assistance.
Maybe Tesla can figure out a way not to be tricked by Eye sunglasses like Ford’s system, but still, recent studies show that Autopilot results in decreased driver attention.
A new study from MIT found a noticeable decrease in driver attention when Autopilot is active. “The Model replicates the observed glance pattern across drivers.
The Model’s components show that off-road glances were longer with AP active than without and their frequency characteristics changed.
Driving-related off-road glances were less frequent with AP active than in manual driving, while non-driving related glances to the down/center-stack areas were the most frequent and the longest (22% of the glances exceeded 2 s).
Little difference was found in on-road glance duration”. Furthermore, this study found that Drivers pay more attention to the road after Autopilot gets disengaged.
Before disengagement, drivers looked less on-road and focused more on non-driving-related areas than after the transition to manual driving.
The higher proportion of off-road glances before disengagement to manual driving were not compensated by longer glances ahead”. Now, to many, these results are obvious, and it’s a really tough line to figure out.
These systems are at the point right now where they need full attention, but their goal is to be fully self-driving without your attention necessary.
It’s incredibly useful to drive 200 miles straight on Autopilot like I did just this weekend, but when the system works incredibly well for that whole time, it’s great for the vehicle but not great for your attention.
You may begin trusting the system and not paying attention when it does mess up. Interestingly, regardless of these findings, the data from Tesla shows that Autopilot, when available, is safer than driving for yourself. Having Autopilot engaged lowers your chance of an accident by about ten times.
While neither of these data sets is perfect, it points to this awkward spot of a safe but not perfect system, and drivers need to pay attention while also leading to a self-driving system they won’t have to pay attention to.
I think Tesla’s new camera monitoring that they are already enabling via over-the-air software updates may become the standard for autopilot attention after this investigation, but we’ll see what happens overall.
Next up, some new features are on their way to the Model S soon. First are some new software features or have been missing in the new Model S until now.
New features for the Model S include Adaptive Suspension Dampening that uses the suspension dampening algorithm in the car to rebalance the suspension system and give you a smoother ride.
Pretty crazy that suspension can be updated and improved upon via a downloadable software update to your car. Immersive sound is the next added feature. “Immersive Sound now has additional granularity along with an AUTO setting which will adjust based on the type of content playing.
To access, tap Media > Audio Settings > Immersive Sound > AUTO”. Sirius XM has been added to the available media sources in the car, and range. Display battery improvements is a new feature saying, “Your vehicle’s range estimation has been modified to better represent real-world conditions.”
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More than likely, this will mean that the range goes down since EPA is never accurate. Under accessibility, Tesla notes that they moved the child lock button to the main controls screen, and you can see that this has been completely changed.
Originally, this screen was just buttons, and now the trunk and trunk buttons have been replaced by the car render just like the Model 3 and Y have.
You can see the child lock button at the bottom there. I just got used to the old control screen, and now it has completely changed, so that’ll be very interesting to see.
A few features that just came to the Model 3 and Y have officially arrived in the Model S, like Disney+ integration, the option to turn off auto-dimming side mirrors, which I did.
This is a great feature to have when your windows are tinted since tinted windows and dimmed side mirrors are very dark at night.
Tesla finally added the button for and the full dashcam viewer, which was missing, or non-functional before, and they made improvements to that system, giving the option to save clips in a safety event automatically. Previously, you’d have to click save or have it save the clip on honk with a dashcam.
So if you didn’t honk and got in an accident, you’d have to remember to save the footage. Now “Dashcam can automatically save clips whenever your vehicle detects the occurrence of a safety event (such as an accident or airbag deployment).
Lastly, the feature to remain connected to Wifi while driving, giving great integration for hotspots to connect, has been added to the Model S.
Those are all great software improvements and features that have been missing, and there are still several features still to come for this car.
It’s missing rear screen gaming, which is the most notable feature, but one feature Tesla originally announced for the hardware of this car, they appear to be testing: a tilting screen still.
When Tesla originally announced the Model S, the screen details said “exceptional responsiveness and left-right tilt.” Then when the Plaid is released, it is simply said “exceptional responsiveness.”
No tilting screen has been delivered to customers, and there were rumors that the feature would come in a future software update, but it was confirmed that the hardware was not included in these cars.
However, one was just spotted in the wild testing this screen, and we’ll get there in just a second. Photos of a Plaid Model S testing out in the wild were just recently posted and shared by Teslarati.
In these photos, you can clearly see that the screen is tilted towards the driver, which could be a nice feature to have in this car since the screen is so large.
If Tesla truly retired this screen, it seems unlikely that they’d be out testing with it, but I have a few theories about this. The first theory is that Tesla continues to work on the Model S refresh with this display mechanism, plans to bring it out later along with the Model X refresh, and then offers retrofits for people who took delivery without this feature.
This is something that Sawyer Merritt mentioned in a tweet, but he was also the one confirming the screen tilt would arrive in software, which it didn’t.
My next theory is that while this is an exciting spotting of a feature we’ve been waiting to hear about, this could be an older Model S refresh that Tesla previously tested with and continues to use.
This Model S is all black, with the 19 inch Tempest wheels. Unfortunately, however, they’re the old tempest wheels, in silver, that were never shipped to customers on the refreshed Model.
The new Tempest wheels are the same shape with a dark cover on them, and deliveries of them have only begun fairly recently.
So this very well could be a Model S that just happens to still have a tilting screen from when Tesla was actively testing that. So now they’re just continuing to use it, and the screen happens to tilt because it was what they were working with at the time.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they never bring out the tilt because it doesn’t feel necessary, but I’d love to know why they ended up dropping it.
Regarding the Model S Plaid performance, I talked a couple of articles ago about how Tesla officially set a world speed record for a production electric car at Nurburgring.
They set this record completely unmodified, meaning that you can pick up that exact car from Tesla directly. Soon, Tesla plans to modify that car, adding aero surfaces, carbon brakes, and track tires, all things that someone like Unplugged Performance could do for you if you want to push your Plaid to the limits on the track.
Still, this card doesn’t have track mode like the performance Model 3 does, and to this, Elon said, “Track software update probably a few weeks away (I know, I know, haha).
Also waypoints and other things”. Lots of new features are coming to the Model S Plaid that is both new and already promised, so there should be a lot of news to come in that area in the coming months.
The Model X refresh still doesn’t have any promised details, but Tesla continues to test it. I spotted one out at the Tesla supercharger in Firebaugh this past weekend, and everything looks exactly as expected.
First, the rear looks just like the Model X has for a while, and this one features Tesla test plates, which gave it away for me. The side view shows the gloss black door “handles” with a pretty rough alignment, and we can see from the front that it features the new, all-black 20-inch Cyberstream wheels, which were recently changed from silver on Tesla’s online configurator.
It’s a great-looking, fully blacked-out Model X, but of course, the most interesting part is the interior, featuring the yoke. This is the closest I could get without being extremely annoying, but it shows a normal, non-tilting screen, and the yoke just the same as the Model S, and shown online.
There wasn’t a ton of new info to glean from splitting this Model X other than some first photos of the new wheels, photos of the yoke in action, and a normal fixed center screen.
Hopefully, Tesla is getting close to releasing this car, but they are dealing with supply constraints across the board, and it seems that their priority may be the Model S for the time being since these cars share the same platform, and the Plaid is selling very well.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see the Model X back until next year, which is a very long time for this car to be unable to be purchased.
Next up, a quick update regarding Tesla’s demand and inability to fully make their cars. Elon Musk sent out an email that leaked detailing these issues, and future delivery pushes, saying, “The end of the quarter delivery wave is unusually high this time as we suffered (like the rest of the industry) from extremely severe parts shortages earlier this quarter.
This meant building a lot of cars with missing parts that needed to be added later. I’d like to thank all Tesla techs and contractors who helped add the missing parts, often in very difficult conditions. You rock! And we are for sure dying to reduce the size of the end-of-the-quarter delivery wave!
The goal is to do so in Q4 (allowing some Q4 production to spill over to delivery in Q1). However, early Q3 production was so challenging that we need to go super hardcore to make up for it over the next ~22 days to ensure a decent Q3 delivery number.
This is the biggest wave in Tesla history, but we got to get it done. Much appreciated, Elon”. Elon specifically mentions decent delivery numbers instead of record-breaking, so we’ll have to see when this quarter concludes if he’s tempering expectations or being realistic.
Further regarding Autopilot and full self-driving, as we talked about earlier, Tesla finally released their FSD beta version 10 to beta testers this week. According to Elon Musk, prior to its release, he said “The build I’m driving right now is almost there.
FSD 10 will blow your mind”. As we’ve seen in beta tester videos, it’s an improvement, with progress, but again, it is not quite mind-blowing and still needs work.
According to Tesla Raj, “More fine-tuning is needed.” Well, Elon gave some more details about this on Twitter, saying, “Highway stack is still production version, as it is more polished than FSD for now.
Single stack for all should release in 10.1”. 10.1 would be the version that Elon has said could come to the general public, but after these V10 videos, it isn’t looking too hopeful.
In response to this and the general tendency to still make “silly mistakes,” Elon said, “Think of Beta 10 as enabling a significantly higher local maximum than Beta 9”.
As far as future features to help it see more, he said, “With 10.1, it will creep forward with more confidence and quickly reverse back a little (just as a person would) if it sees danger”.
Lastly from Elon, with Beta V10, said, “FSD 10 predicts height from video pixels directly, without needing to classify groups of pixels into objects.
In principle, even if a UFO crashed on the road right in front of you, it would still avoid the debris. However, some work is still needed to tune the sensitivity. Also, we need to figure out how to render voxel height of unknown objects in a way that isn’t horrendous”.
As with every FSD beta release, there are tons of exciting improvements to this incredible technology, and it’s easy to glance over those and look at the negatives. However, there are clear signs that this thing isn’t fully ready or as mind-blowing as Elon expresses.
Hopefully, something can come to the general public soon. I won’t be holding my breath, but I’d love to be proven wrong as Tesla likes to do. Last up today. A video leaked out of Giga, Texas, showing that Tesla is producing tons of mega casts for the Model Y, which should be starting full production soon.
Tesla is aiming for production by the end of the year, and this video which apparently leaked on Snapchat shows just how many mega casts have been produced.
It’s a lot, and it’s a great sign for production getting underway there. Of course, there is a lot more to see from here, including whether or not this Model Y will launch with new 4680 battery cells or not, but Tesla is hard at work on this factory that should greatly increase their vehicle output.
The Long Range Model Y right now isn’t available until February, so the addition of this factory should help with those delivery times, among other things like quality control.