Tesla’s Technology Update

Electric car manufacturer released a new software update for their electric cars including self-park, Spotify, Netflix, and arcade games

White+tesla+in+parking+lot+%7C%7C+photo+from+Charlie+Deets

Charlie Deets

White tesla in parking lot || photo from Charlie Deets

Devin Gupta

On Sept. 26, Tesla released the Version 10 software update, a revision to their cars providing new features such as Spotify and Netflix connectivity, games including Chess and Beach Buggy Racing, Karaoke features and a feature called Smart Summon.

Smart Summon allows Tesla owners with a full self-driving package to automatically call their vehicle to them within a parking lot. The process begins in the Tesla app, in which you press a button to summon your car, causing it to drive to the specified pickup location.

Sophomore Marissa Jensen claims that her mom has not grown accustomed to the recent self-driving technology. While cruise control, a technology controlling speed and lane changing on highways, is available on her Tesla Model S, Jensen explains her mother usually does not use it.

Liability was one of the reasons behind her mother’s discomfort with the new system. Currently, Tesla’s autopilot is considered level two, meaning the vehicle still requires human involvement. 

“There’s a fear that people have [the mindset that] ‘Robots are going to take over!’ but realistically it’s already happening right now””

— Rohun Agarwal

“It seems like a positive feature, but if [the car] does have an accident then you’re still going to be liable for it,” Jensen said. “[That’s] the risk.”

Math teacher Melinda Gaul also sees risks in driving Tesla cars, but her main concern is about the updates, rather than the self-driving technology. She says that she once experienced a system reset after pulling into a parking lot.

“After some updates, [the car] does get a little buggy,” Gaul said. “I remember one time after an update, I was driving in Saratoga and I pulled into a parking lot. All of a sudden my car went dark … [These bugs] can be a little nerve-wracking.”

On the other hand, Gaul recognizes the upside to quick updates. She also states that she feels safer with her kids in a Tesla than the alternative: car recalls, in which cars are taken back to servicing stations to be fixed.

“It’s cool because whenever [car companies] do have [issues, they have] car recalls” Gaul said. “But if [Tesla] can do it in a quick update and everybody gets it ‘Bam!’, then that’s pretty great.”

I remember one time after an update, I was driving in Saratoga and I pulled into a parking lot. All of a sudden my car went dark … [These bugs] can be a little nerve-wracking.”

— Melinda Gaul

Tesla began its self-driving automation with the release of its Model S car in June 2012; they offered free cellular connectivity in the car in order to collect user’s driving data. As of November 2018, Tesla reached 1 billion miles of autopilot data, whereas their closest rival, Waymo, only reached 15 million miles. Tesla uses this data to train their cars to drive better with every subsequent mile.

“I think that really shows the value data holds in our modern world,” Artificial Intelligence [AI] club co-president and junior Rohun Agarwal said. “Tesla had [collect lots of data in order] to make their AI.”

However, Agarwal believes Tesla’s self-driving technology is not perfect. Since 2016, there have been 2 autopilot-related fatalities and he worries about the consequences of self-driving technology. He encourages people to ask questions about consumer liability and government regulation.

“What happens if the car hits another car while it’s backing out?” Agarwal said. “Something so simple can have its own consequences down the road.”