Friday, October 10, 2014

News: Tesla announces AWD Model S and Autopilot features

Every Tesla fan was likely glued to the web last night to find out about the latest from the electric auto maker and Elon Musk did not disappoint. The announcement of a dual motor all-wheel-drive version of the Model S corroborates the various rumors that had been swirling around all week. However, unlike the usual AWD systems, which saddle cars with extra weight and complexity, contributing to losses in performance and efficiency, the dual motor AWD system in the Model S seems to do exactly the opposite, actually improving efficiency and increasing the cars overall range while adding nearly 50% more horsepower and dropping the 0-60 mph time by over a full second in the now 691-hp P85D trim. Judging from the various videos floating around online of first impressions, this thing is an absolute monster.

On top of all this Tesla has also announced that starting from two weeks ago, every Model S built has the hardware installed for its new Autopilot features, which will be a part of the Technology Package going forward. This adds several cameras, sensors, and systems to allow the Model S to virtually drive itself. The car is able to operate the throttle, brakes, and steering to essentially drive itself, doing everything from managing your cruising speed by reading the speed limit signs to executing a lane change upon command, all without the driver touching the steering wheel or pedals. While the hardware has been included in recent production cars, the software to power this impressive feat of automotive engineering is still being finalized and will be released as a part of an over the air update. Unfortunately, there is no way to retrofit the hardware to older Model S cars.

As huge fans of the Model S, it is hard not to applaud Tesla for adding such admirable improvements to their cars, especially in an ongoing manner. The addition of such features not only toes the line on what is legally allowed at the moment for autonomous vehicles, but also shows that as a company, Tesla is committed to continued innovation. We look forward to taking a test drive of a car equipped with these new features so that we can share further impressions.

More details linked after the jump.

Click here for more details about the Tesla Model S P85D and new Autopilot features.

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