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New Tesla software app addresses range anxiety

By Bob Nagy on March 19, 2015 7:51 AM

Elon Musk today announced a new over-the-air software upgrade for the Tesla Model S intended to quell concerns about range anxiety. While falling a bit short of Musk's earlier boast that it would completely put an end to the ultimate bane of all EV owners, the new Update 6.2 does contains two significant new features: Range Assurance and Trip Planner. The first works with the car's navigation system and constantly monitors and displays the location and availability of the nearest Tesla Supercharger as well as all rechargers at the programmed destinations. It relies on sophisticated algorithms to calculate real-world elements like driving style, elevation changes and traffic conditions to best assess charge levels. In addition to issuing a warning when it senses the vehicle is in danger of motoring out of range, it also provides the driver with optimized directions on how to reach the nearest charging station. 

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The second major new feature included in Update 6.2 is Trip Planner. This tweak offers advice regarding the best charging options available on longer trips. Beyond serving up fastest and most convenient routing, it also will advise the driver on things like how much time will be required to replenish the battery pack to make sure the Model S - and other future Tesla models - will be able to reach the next recommended Supercharger or other facility. The 6.2 upgrade also brings blind spot detection, side collision warning and automatic emergency braking as well as a valet mode.

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In addition to these upgrades that should reach vehicles in about 10 days, Musk also outlined even more substantial changes coming in the next few months when Update 7.0 launches. Along with an entirely new user interface, 7.0 will add a number of semi-autonomous and fully autonomous capabilities - including auto-steering and driverless passenger pickup - to complement the existing Autopilot system on the latest Model S. However, this functionality has yet to be approved for use on all public thoroughfares. 

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