As part of Model S software update 6.2, new features called Range Assurance and Trip Planner will automatically make sure a proposed journey includes scheduled stops to recharge the car's onboard battery pack and will alert the driver if he or she gets too far away from known charging points. Nice features, for sure, but hardly a technological breakthrough.
Perhaps just as interesting are new Automatic Emergency Braking and Blind Spot Warning functions that... well, do exactly what you think they do. There's also a new Valet Mode, which puts the car into a lower power setting and blocks access to the glovebox and front-mounted trunk.
An argument can surely be made that these new features should probably have been standard on the Model S already – Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book points out, "The Nissan Leaf offered this feature when it was introduced back in 2010" – but they are nice features nonetheless. What may be of more interest, though, are the promises being made about the next software update that's due in the next three or four months.
Model S software update 7.0 will include with it an auto-steering feature that the automaker is currently testing. In fact, Tesla says it has driven from San Francisco to Seattle in an auto-steering car already, and that the driver barely had to do anything. We don't know how auto safety regulators will react to the notion of thousands of Teslas on US roads that have this type of autonomous driving functionality, but Musk says it's working with the appropriate powers-that-be already, and that the auto steering will be kept to certain highways, major roads and private property.
Also kept solely to private property will be a new feature that allows a driver to summon his or her car, or to have it return itself to the garage. These are the kinds of updates that tech-minded Model S owners are likely to swoon over, and we're keenly interested in seeing how they work in the real world. In other words, stay tuned.