Tesla Software Upgrade To Feature Automated Steering

The next over-the-air software updates to Tesla's Model S vehicle will add even more self-driving capabilities to the electric luxury vehicle, CEO Elon Musk said in a a conference call with journalists Thursday. Expected "within three months," the Version 7 software update will enable Automatic Steering. The new features will make it "almost" possible to "travel from San Francisco to Seattle with the driver barely touching the wheel at all," Musk said.

Several autopilot features, including self-parking and collision prevention, are already standard on the Model S. The next Model S update to come early this summer will also enable remote vehicle summoning on private property, according to Tesla.

The Version 6.2 update to the Model S that rolled out on Thursday added two new key applications to the vehicle's software: Range Assurance and Trip Planner. The Range Assurance navigation system communicates with Tesla's network of chargers across the U.S. and parts of Canada to make it "effectively impossible for a Model S driver to run out of charge unintentionally." The Trip Planner calculates the fastest and most convenient routes to take based on where charging stations are located.

Tech Advances Challenge Lawmakers

Many companies -- including Audi, Google, Bosch, Daimler, Delphi, Nissan, Volkswagen and, reportedly, Apple -- are working aggressively to develop autonomous vehicle technology, and several prototypes and demonstration models have already proven their capabilities on test-track and real-life road environments. Government regulations, however, have yet to catch up with what's becoming increasingly possible technologically.

The U.S. Department of Transportation released a preliminary policy statement on automated vehicles in 2013. Several individual states -- California, Nevada and Florida, as well as the District of Columbia -- have also passed laws governing the use of self-driving cars.

Speaking at a technology conference earlier this week, Musk said he expects it...

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