By Kirsten Korosec
March 19, 2015

Tesla Motors’ latest over-the-air software update aims to not just ease fears about running out of battery power before reaching another charger. It’s designed to make it impossible.

The 6.2 version software update, which was announced by Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday during a press conference, includes several new features, including range assurance, an app that communicates in real time with Tesla’s supercharger networks and destination chargers. The app advises drivers when they’re at risk of driving beyond the range of reliable charging locations. Once alerted, a map guides the driver to the closest charger, factoring in elevation and wind speed to determine range with extreme accuracy, Musk said during the call.

“All the complexity is taken care of automatically. You don’t need to think ahead or do any calculations,” Musk said. “It’s impossible to run out unless you do so intentionally. The car will even double check and you’ll have to say, ‘yes, I’m sure’ twice before it’s possible to actually run out of range.”

Tesla (TSLA) has also added a trip planner that automatically picks a route through the appropriate superchargers if charging is needed. The planner selects the fastest route to the destination and breaks it into three- to four-hour legs between superchargers. Once the vehicle is charged, the car messages the driver via the Tesla phone app.

The route should match up to when a driver would normally want to stop, use the restroom, have a bite to eat or grab a coffee, Musk said.

“There’s maybe the rare occasion where someone wants to drive non-stop for 10 hours and wears diapers or something, but that’s unusual,” Musk said. “For almost any trip, the time driven to time charging ratio works out really well.”

The software update should be released to all Model S owners in about 10 days, Musk said.

The Palo Alto-based electric car company has completed numerous over-the-air software upgrades to the Model S since the tech-centric vehicle was first released in 2012 to fix bugs, enhance safety features, performance and customize the driving experience—all in an effort to make the car better over time.

Other features in this software update, include automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning to help drivers change lanes safely and valet mode, which limits the Model S’s driving performance and restricts access to settings and personal information.


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