Tesla's Latest Autopilot Update Is A Hit With Owners

Mar. 18, 2018 8:01 PM ETTesla, Inc. (TSLA)352 Comments
Yarrow Bouchard profile picture
Yarrow Bouchard


  • A new update to Autopilot has Tesla owners gushing.
  • Conservative scenario: improvements to Autopilot will create more demand for Tesla's vehicles.
  • Techno-optimist scenario: Tesla is on the path to full self-driving and the eventual demise of the auto sales business.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) owners are gushing about the latest version of Autopilot for Hardware 2 cars. One Tesla owner said to me that, with the new update, Autopilot “feels like a human driver.” On the Tesla Motors Club forum, an owner going by MikeH said that Autopilot is “now as good or better than” him at changing lanes on the highway. Dozens of comments on the forum are similarly effusive.

The update brings three major improvements:

  • greatly improved lane keeping: a car now recognizes the lane that it’s in more reliably, and holds steady in the centre of the lane instead of “ping-ponging” between lane lines
  • sharp curves and hills that previously confounded Autopilot are now handled with grace
  • greatly improved automatic lane changes on the highway

Thomas Bensmann in Norway is one of many Tesla owners who has uploaded a video demonstrating the improvements:

Tesla’s Director of AI, Andrej Karpathy, said that the improvements are “a result of a fairly extensive rewrite” of the Autopilot software:

Over the past five months, Tesla has indicated that is has been reworking its Autopilot software stack at a fundamental level. In its Q3 2017 update letter, Tesla wrote:

Now that the foundation of the Tesla vision neural net is right, which was an exceptionally difficult problem, as it must fit into far less computing power than is typically used, we expect a rapid rollout of additional functionality over the next several months and are progressing rapidly towards our goal of a coast-to-coast drive with no one touching the controls.

This comment suggests that Tesla changed to a new neural network architecture as recently as Q3 or Q4 2017. In its Q4 2017 update letter, Tesla expanded on this theme:

The upcoming autonomous coast-to-coast drive will showcase a major leap forward for our

This article was written by

Yarrow Bouchard profile picture
I write about autonomous vehicles and other AI robots on Seeking Alpha and in my Substack newsletter. I've been long TSLA since February 2017.

Disclosure: I am/we are long TSLA. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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