Tesla seems to be back into the pattern its investors love to see: Elon tweets out a slow drip of good news items, and the stock ratchets higher (as the media makes an about-face and the short sellers gnash their teeth).
The latest tidbit is that the eagerly awaited Autopilot version 9 software upgrade, scheduled for August, will include “full self-driving features.” As yet, no details are on offer. Tesla’s web site says that it is not possible to know when each element of the functionality will be available, as this depends on local regulatory approval.
“To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features,” Musk tweeted.
Drivers have been complaining about Autopilot’s lane-merging performance, an issue that Musk says will be “fully fixed” in the update.
Another fun goodie that Musk teased during the recent shareholders’ meeting: a SpaceX option package for the new Roadster, which he now says will include “~10 small rocket thrusters arranged seamlessly around car. These rocket engines dramatically improve acceleration, top speed, braking & cornering. Maybe they will even allow a Tesla to fly…”
Reactions were predictable, but Musk soon assured us that he is quite serious, and clarified that the “rocket thrusters” would operate on compressed air. Automakers have actually built concept vehicles powered by compressed air, so a Twitter user asked Elon about its potential as an energy storage medium. “Total energy stored even in ultra compressed air is low vs battery, but power output is insane,” Musk replied. “The composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) is most advanced ever made. It’s what SpaceX is qualifying for NASA crewed missions. Extremely robust – literally bulletproof.”