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Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald

Michael is an assistant professor of finance and a frequent consultant to companies regarding capital structure decisions and investments. He holds a PhD in finance…

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Tesla’s Self-Driving Car Continues To Improve

Tesla assembly line

As of September 21st, owners of Tesla cars have been able to update their car’s OS to the latest software version, Tesla 8.0. This update comes packed with different tweaks and fixes for the car, becoming safer and enhancing user experience. Any computer requires a software update at some point, and Tesla’s cars are no different. The concept of wireless updates is extremely convenient for car owners. The changes affect the media player, voice commands, maps, and autopilot. There is also a new feature called Cabin Overheat Protection that turns the AC on whenever the car gets close to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The purpose of this is to prevent the harm to children or animals locked in cars.

Tesla cars will be relying on radar more for autopilot as opposed to the sensors. Radar is known for mistaking objects but Tesla believes it’s the key to better navigation. Sensors aren’t able to detect what lies behind objects and experience difficulty in poor weather. This could potentially give Tesla a competitive edge over other car producers who commonly use laser sensors, if they can calibrate it right.

Due to a number of fatal crashes behind the wheel of Tesla’s cars on autopilot, the company has introduced a periodic check to make sure the driver is paying attention. The dash display will now flash when your hands haven’t been on the wheel in a while. If this happens too much then the car will warn you its turning autopilot off for the rest of the ride. Speculators found this unsettling as it means the self-driving car entrepreneurs are stepping back from their goals.

When on the subject of cars with autopilot, many people express safety concerns. It’s important for these companies to reassure their customers and to market all the safety features. When news broke in May, however, that there was a crash with a Model S using autopilot, it was evident in Tesla’s stock how consumers felt. As Tesla’s continues to update their cars’ features, approaching the point of full autonomy, the risk of accidents grows, possibly exposing them to lawsuits and financial losses.

Related: Can Oil Hold Onto OPEC Deal Gains?

Tesla’s cars also use Google Maps but they’re far from perfect. Most customers still use their phones for GPS because the cars native mapping only suggests the shortest route. Ultimately, this leads to many drivers being stuck in gridlocked traffic. The service is to continue being perfected but Tesla has high hopes as we see the interface improving, especially for media. At least drivers can stay entertained while in traffic.

Speculators looking to invest in Tesla should consider buying stock prior to Tesla car updates. Tesla’s stock increased $1.21 a share on September 21st alone and this update only included minor changes. Investors should be wary around Google in relation to their product in Tesla’s cars. The fact their navigation feature performs poorly hurts Google’s image but future updates could improve the service. Alternatively, Google is creating their own driverless car, making them a competitor to Tesla. General Motors is hoping to release their Chevy Bolt in December, which will also feature wireless updates. Tesla also plans to unveil their Model 3 sometime late next year but no date has been announced yet. Any announcements about release or updates from any of the three companies will likely see an upward trend in their respective stocks.

By Michael McDonald of Oilprice.com

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  • HerrDerr on October 01 2016 said:
    This author is confused. Tesla does not have a self-driving car. They have smart cruise control that tries to stay in a lane and decelerate when it detects that it's coming close to another vehicle cruising in the same lane. The only self-driving part of the is the Autopark/summon, which parks and unparks the car.

    It does NOT drive itself. They hope to make it do so eventually. It does not currently do so now.

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