The 7.0 software update that was recently released brings a host of enhancements, including a new gauge design and layout. It also unlocks Autopilot on newer cars equipped with the right sensor package; it's a $2,500 option when ordered from the factory (it can be added to compatible cars for $3,000 after the fact) and uses the various radar and sonar sensors and a camera to enable active cruise control, auto steering within a lane, and automatic lane changing. It also includes an impressive self-park feature that doesn't even require the "driver" to operate the pedals, as all other similar systems do. Tesla is also able to deliver these software updates over the air. One editor pointed out that when the car arrived, it couldn't drive itself, but a few hours later, after the update had completed, it could. We had varying views on just how well it drove itself, with the car sometimes beginning to veer off the road when it loses the edge lines; since that test, Tesla has updated the software and begun using the Autopilot-equipped cars on the road as a hive mind to improve the functionality of the system. Welcome to the future.
Those who want to be hurtled into the future screaming (but not kicking) will want the Ludicrous Speed upgrade. This $10,000 option is available to those who choose the P90D model (a $3,000 premium over a P85D) and provides the maximum acceleration of any Tesla, or electric vehicle for that matter. Ludicrous mode uses a unique smart fuse that allows the battery to send as much power as possible to the electric motors, and for even further improved performance, there's even an option to heat the battery to its optimal temperature. Fun fact: The underline on a P90D badge lets you know the car has the Ludicrous package.
Watch the video below to learn more about why we chose the Tesla Model S as a Technology of the Year finalist.