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Tesla Will Release the Worlds First ‘Upgradeable’ Car

Tesla Will Release the Worlds First ‘Upgradeable’ Car

by Stephen BrownMay 15, 2013

 The Tesla S will be the first car whose internal systems can be downloaded & installed like a smartphone app.


By Digital Afro Lead Editor: Stephen Brown


Usually when you buy anything, no matter how cool it is, you’re stuck with it. The same holds true for cars. Tesla the Electric Luxury Car maker,  has released some of the most advanced  vehicles ever, but  for the first time, an auto manufacturer has designed a car that with the press of a button, can get even better.

At Tesla’s sunny headquarters in Palo Alto, CTO JB Straubel  stated the Tesla, S & X models  would release new features for the internal and control systems as his team finished creating them. The internal electrical & modular controls would be downloaded and installed to the car just like an app to your smartphone.

Tesla has some of the most advanced driving controls ever. Traction, navigation, 3D Imaging, night & thermal vision, communication, fuel/energy consumption, & media controls, all come standard, and new features can be upgraded.

One of the Model S’ great strengths, beyond its zero emissions, minimal running costs, excellent driving character, and luxury appointments, is that Tesla can deliver over-the-air updates to its cabin electronics.

However, as much as Tesla can tweak its software, Straubel says that the car’s drive systems are safe. The two Nvidia Visual Computing Modules are firewalled from the power control and drive systems. Straubel mentioned a moment in a development car when both the instrument cluster and center display went through a reboot, which had no effect on the driving performance.

As one example, Straubel said Tesla would soon be releasing a new feature, a trip planner, to help drivers manage the Model S electricity consumption. This feature goes beyond simple navigation to look at different routes and estimate their energy consumption, based on factors such as hills. It will show drivers how much juice they have left once they reach their destinations, and most likely suggest charging stations along the route.

One area on which Tesla is working, which will be less transparent to owners, is how the Model S sleeps. Part of the seamless experience of the Model S is that it is ready to go as soon as you get in, with all displays lighting up right away. To make that behavior possible, Tesla puts the processors into a sleep mode that draws enough power to make them quickly awake. But in an electric car, any power draw must be minimized, especially when the car is not in use. Tesla is still working on perfecting the balance between making the car instantly ready and consuming little electricity when parked.

This thinking is what really sets Tesla apart from its automaker peers, and highlights the problems competitors have faced when trying to implement modern electronics into their cars. With cars developed in three to five year product cycles, there is no possibility that the electronics can be as up-to-date as the latest smartphones, tablets, and other personal devices.

Tesla may be an upstart, but it has valuable lessons for its older competitors.


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About The Author
Stephen Brown
Stephen Brown @SteveBTech is a Technology Entrepreneur, & Int'l CES Judge. Along with being the founder of DigiLyfe, and Nubby.co, he is the founder of DigitalAfro.com, & StemStars.org an organization that teaches K-12 Students Science & Technology.

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