A few days ago, Elon Musk pledged to “end range anxiety” for Model S owners by way of an over-the-air software update.
Today, he’s detailed how he plans to do that.
The short version: the Model S will now run constant calculations (regardless of whether or not you’re using the built in turn-by-turn system) on how far you are from a supercharger.
If you are about to drive too far from a supercharger to make it back to one, the car will warn you. “This makes it effectively impossible for a driver to run out of range unintentionally”, says Musk. “The car will actually double check; you’ll have to say ‘Yes, I’m sure’… twice”
The Model S already tries to estimate how much charge you’ve got left on your battery; it’ll also tell you how far you are from the nearest supercharger. This update really just ties those two points together, as well as some outside data, to put a big ol’ warning sign up when you’re about to drive just a little too far.
The system will also now have a built-in trip planner, which allows you to route long distance trips with superchargers in mind. The range estimator here will factor in things like the additional energy needed for climbing up windy mountain passes, as well as real-time data like high-wind speed.
The new range assurance system is coming in Version 6.2, along with features like automatic emergency braking and a “valet” mode that tones back the car’s performance before you hand it off to a valet. Things start to get crazy, though, with Version 7 — that’s when the first auto-pilot, self-steering functionality will arrive.