Tesla’s latest update to its Autopilot software will feature several playable Atari video games. The v9.0 update will include classic Atari games, such as Missile Command, Pole Position, and Tempest. The steering wheels control the games, but they will only work when the car is not moving. Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the announcement via Twitter on Wednesday, giving the release date as “in about four weeks.”
Musk was responding to a Twitter follower
Musk was responding to a Tesla customer when he made the announcement. The happy Model 3 owner was praising the electric car. Another person asked him in the same thread about the changes the v9.0 would bring to Model S and X. That’s when he revealed the upgrade would include video games and other changes.
His Twitter response read: “Games & other refinements will go to all Tesla S, X & 3 from the start of production. Autopilot enhancements apply to all Model 3’s plus S & X made in last few years (needs Autopilot Hardware V2.0 or higher).”
In June, Musk had announced the v9.0 would include all the self-driving features needed to make Tesla vehicles autonomous. On other occasions, he had tweeted about the possibility of including an option to play video games. Just before Wednesday’s earnings call, Musk invited interested game developers to apply for a position in Tesla.
Tesla again lost money in the last quarter
Wednesday’s earnings call revealed that Tesla once again lost money. In this quarter, it was $740 million. However, Musk pointed out that there was growth in the company’s numbers and that it was the last unprofitable quarter. This resulted in a significant rise in the company’s stock in the following days.
Standard features included in Autopilot v9.0
Besides Atari video games, Autopilot v9.0 will include the following features:
- Mobile apps updates: The upgraded Tesla mobile app will be able to update the vehicle software remotely. The driver can send a destination to the navigation system using a mobile device. It even allows the passengers to control the vehicle’s media settings if the driver allows them to.
- Dashcam: Tesla vehicles with hardware version 2.5 will be able to use the car’s forward-facing camera to capture video clips. Each video clip can be up to 10 minutes long.
- Apps and app launcher: The new version has moved all the apps to one convenient location. Model 3 owners can now browse the web, integrate their calendars, and monitor energy consumption more easily.
- Enhanced climate controls: There are enhanced climate controls and comfort menus in the new version. The controls and menus vary by vehicle model.
- Full 360-degree view: Instead of ultrasound sensors, the company fitted the Model S, X, and 3 with eight cameras. These cameras provide a 360-degree view of the surrounding area and enhanced blind spot monitoring. Other capabilities include distant adjacent land views and an additional vehicle class icon.
- Navigation routing: The software shows the driver more detailed information about upcoming turns and exits. But, the details vary by the model of the vehicle. It also allows the driver to enable high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes if the vehicle is eligible. The HOV lane is a restricted traffic lane reserved for the use of eligible vehicles during peak travel time. To be eligible, a vehicle must have a driver and one or more passengers.
- Obstacle-aware acceleration: When enabled, this feature reduces the car’s acceleration to avoid an obstacle when it is moving slowly. It makes life easier when parking the vehicle in a place full of other cars and people.
The much-talked-about feature that didn’t make it
Musk had announced back in June that the latest version of Autopilot will have advanced features, such as Navigate on Autopilot, Mad Max Mode, and Path Planning. For some reason, the company shelved this feature. However, the company may include it in future versions.
Navigate on Autopilot is a guidance system feature that lets Autopilot find the most efficient route. It then guides the vehicle safely to the destination. When a driver activates the feature, the Autopilot suggests its own lane change when it feels it is necessary. This can significantly reduce drive time and also help you make better decisions.
The feature has a Mad Max Mode that makes it easier to make lane changes in high-traffic areas. Drivers can choose from “Mild” to “Mad Max Mode.” And, the autopilot does so accordingly based on the car’s speed. The reasoning behind this mode is a person needs to be aggressive when changing lanes automatically in high-traffic areas.
To activate Navigate on Autopilot, the driver needs to enter a destination, which appears on the screen if it’s available. Once activated, blue steering wheels, called Autosteer logos, appear on the screen. These logos represent the segments of the trip in which the feature is available. At the same time, you will see the current path of your vehicle represented by a blue line. This makes it easier for you to plan your path.
Absent feature was a step toward autonomous vehicle
Navigate on Autopilot is a significant step toward autonomous driving. Originally, the feature sounded like it was meant for use in a level 3 autonomous driving system. However, the new description has made it clear that it is meant for level 2 autonomous driving. Level 3 is fully automated driving while level 2 requires the driver to remain alert and be ready to take control.
Sadly, this feature didn’t make it into the Autopilot v9.0. The reason Musk gave was the company needs to validate the operational features using a Shadow Mode.
Video games included in version 9.0
As mentioned earlier, the video games included in Autopilot v9.0 are Missile Command, Pole Position, and Tempest. Let’s check out some of these games.
- Missile Command: Atari Inc. developed this popular arcade game in 1980 and licensed it to Sega in Europe. The 1981 version of the game sold more than 2.5 million copies. It became the third most popular game at the time. In this game, the player has to defend his or her six cities from invaders. The invaders attack with a never-ending barrage of ballistic missiles. You have to destroy the missiles in midair using smart bombs and bomber planes.
- Pole Position: Namco released this popular racing game in 1982 and licensed it to Atari Inc. In 1983, it became the most popular arcade game operated by coin. The premise of the game is simple. The player is the driver of a Formula One race car. To qualify for the race, he or she has to first complete a lap within a certain period of time. Once the player qualifies, he or she can take part in a championship race. There are seven CPU-controlled cars as the player’s competitors. Driving at breakneck speed, the driver must avoid going off the road and crashing into billboards, walls, and other cars.
- Tempest: You play this popular 1981 arcade game on a virtual 3-D surface. The surface has multiple segments. The player has to control a spaceship named Blaster that hovers near the edge of the playfield. Tempest was a groundbreaker at the time. It was one of the first games that allowed players to choose their starting levels. It was also one the pioneers of progressive level design – each level is different.
In case you are wondering whether these old games will be interesting, they will come in their latest versions. These games will come in handy when you are waiting for someone and have nothing better to do. They will help you pass the time and chase away the boredom associated with waiting.
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