Tesla just updated its ‘Navigate on Autopilot’ feature — here’s what’s new

I tested Navigate on Autopilot last year. Matthew DeBord/BI

Last year, Tesla released a software update to its Autopilot semi-self-driving system, called “Navigate on Autopilot.” The feature combined GPS navigation with Autopilot’s advanced cruise control and autosteer functions to enable a properly equipped vehicle to follow a digital route on highways.

Now the carmaker has updated the feature with a few tweaks.

“Tesla drivers have travelled more than 66 million miles using the [Navigate on Autopilot], and more than 9 million suggested lane changes have been successfully executed with the feature in use,” Tesla said in a statement.

Read more:
I tried Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot feature to see if it lives up to the hype – here’s the verdict

“We’ve heard from our customers that it makes road trips and highway driving more relaxing, enjoyable, and fun, and gives them an easy way to follow their car’s navigation guidance when travelling on an unfamiliar route.”

I tested Navigate on Autopilot last year (briefly) and found that it was impressive, but that it also asked for more driver engagement than previous versions of Autopilot.

Lane changes can now happen almost automatically

Tesla Nav on Autopilot
Navigation on Autopilot in action. Tesla

The main update to the feature involves lane changes. Before, the driver had to confirm a lane switch, suggested by Navigate on Autopilot, using the turn-signal stalk. The update removes that requirement, but without lessening driver involvement.

“If a driver selects ‘No’ to Require Lane Change Confirmation, lane changes will happen automatically, without requiring a driver to confirm them first,” Tesla explained in a blog post.

Drivers can elect to get notified about an upcoming lane change by receiving an audible chime as well as a default visual prompt. Additionally, all cars made after August 2017 will also have the option to have their steering wheel vibrate for the alert as well.”

The driver’s hands have to be on the wheel when the lane change is executed.

A new “Customise Navigate on Autopilot” option has also been added. In addition to “Require Lane Change Confirmation” and “Lane Change Notification” settings, the feature can be configured to activate by default on a highway whenever a destination is plugged in to the navigation system via the central touchscreen on the Models S, X, and 3.

The update to Navigate on Autopilot is classic Tesla. It became available to owners in the US on Wednesday, as long as they had added Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving Capability to their vehicles. It was an over-the-air software update, a modest, iterative improvement to an existing Tesla feature, requiring owners to do nothing more than accept the update.

Tesla said that pending regulatory approval, the feature would eventually be offered in markets outside the US.