Tesla's August Autopilot update will begin to enable "full self-driving features"

Rocket-powered Tesla Roadster may fly, Elon Musk says

"To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety".

But proponents were quick to celebrate Musk's promised upgrade, with Tesla stock surging in after-hours trading.

The latest software update, which started to roll out last week, features a new feature that will increase the number of warnings it gives drivers to take control of the auto.

A consumer advocacy group on Friday urged Tesla to fix what it termed as "flaws" in Autopilot after a preliminary government report said a Model X driver did not have his hands on the vehicle's steering wheel in the final six seconds before a fatal crash on March 23. The automaker subsequently updated the system, replacing some of its hardware, as well as modifying its software.

Four seconds before the crash the Tesla wasn't following a vehicle any more.

Edris Rodriguez Ritchie, an attorney for the NLRB, said Tesla asked workers to sign confidentiality agreements that were "overly broad" in preventing them from publicly discussing their working conditions. During that time, the system provided two visual and one auditory alert for the driver to put his hands back on the steering wheel, the agency said.

Rocket-powered Tesla Roadster may fly, Elon Musk says
The Tesla Roadster's SpaceX package will replace the back seats with rockets (TSLA)

According to Autopilot Buddy's website, it works on Model S and Model X and the company is developing one for the Model 3. But most experts believe an even more advanced 3D laser technology, known as LIDAR, will also be required, along with hyper-detailed roadmaps. In a rare move, the NTSB in April said it had tossed Tesla from the investigation, asserting the Silicon Valley auto maker violated a formal agreement to be a "party" to the probe by releasing detailed information about the crash before government officials had vetted it. Tesla would not comment beyond the CEO's tweets.

In the tweet, which addressed a concern about Autopilot wavering in high-traffic lane-merging situations, Musk said "that issue is better in latest Autopilot software rolling out now & fully fixed in August update as part of our long-awaited Tesla Version 9".

Tesla has received criticism for how it has promoted the feature. Elon Musk has tweeted about the possibility of rocket thrusters for extra boost for the Roadster and knowing what he is capable of, it might turn out to be a reality.

As to the benefits, Musk noted that "these rocket engines dramatically improve acceleration, top speed, braking & cornering".

Those credits are a big incentive to buy a Tesla because they can save thousands of dollars off the price of a new auto.

The V9 update may technically make drivers safer, but Telsa and other makers of autonomous vehicles appear to still have a way to go in building public trust in self-driving vehicles.

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