Tesla is going to update their new map and navigation modules as part of a system upgrade that is “light-years ahead of the current system.” The rumors of the update began back in July when Tesla said they were working on using open source modules from MapBox and Valhalla in combination with its own maps. Tesla hacker, verygreen, leaked to media the new Tesla map update in the recent 2017.44 software update called ‘Vector maps’. On December 21, Musk confirmed that more updates were coming soon.
Major navigation overhaul coming in early 2018. Will be light-years ahead of current system, but we are testing it rigorously before rolling out.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 21, 2017
Tesla leading the way in OTA updates
Tesla is one of the few car companies that provide over-the-air software updates that add new features to the cars' existing software. Tesla cars can connect to their home’s WiFi network for the fastest possible download time. The most current version of the Tesla vehicles' software is 8.1. This means that all Tesla cars are now equipped with Autosteer up to 90 miles per hour, Auto Lane Change, Summon (Beta), Lane Departure Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking. When a software update becomes available drivers will get a notification on the car's center display. You can download the install immediately or schedule it to install later. Other companies are expected to catch on to the Tesla technology in the coming years.
General Motors plans to roll out new update system
General Motors has announced it will offer over-the-air (OTA) software updates "before 2020." However, OTA technology is not just a matter of building the architecture and systems for it, for many carmakers, there is also a lot of legal red tape to clear before they can introduce the technology. The main hurdle is that the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) can’t deploy enhancements to their vehicle without car-dealerships being involved. Tesla was able to overcome this problem by circumnavigating the traditional way that cars get sold. This has its pros and cons. On one hand, it does allow the electric car company to provide its customers vehicles with OTA but it also means that it misses out on having the servicing infrastructure that is a given by other major carmakers. Without this system in place, some Tesla owners can face lengthy delays in getting their vehicles serviced.
As electric vehicles become the norm for most automobile manufacturers, having the ability to deploy software updates is going to become essential. This means there is some work ahead for the industry to redesign the current system that holds up this process by insisting that the middlemen of the car dealerships are involved. This process may be very difficult to navigate through as it gets political very quickly. Car dealerships will not be keen to be removed from the process and as traditionally these businesses have been serious political donors there will need to be some serious lobbying on behalf of the auto industry to get the rules adjusted in their favor.
Tesla responds to customers' requests for new features
In the meantime, Tesla will continue to improve its fleet of cars on the road with updates as they are created. Earlier in the year Tesla CEO, Elon Musk responded to an update idea from a Tesla owner who suggested to Musk via Twitter that the company add a feature that would move the seat of the car back once the car is parked to allow the driver a smooth exit. Musk responded that he liked the idea and would add the feature to the next software update.
Good point. We will add that to all cars in one of the upcoming software releases.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 19, 2017