What is in Tesla’s ‘FUN’ Christmas Software Update this week?

A couple of days ago, Elon Musk posted a tweet that provided a timeline for the latest version of FSD beta. While discussing version 10.8 (they’re skipping 10.7), he...
Image credit: EntertainmentBox

A couple of days ago, Elon Musk posted a tweet that provided a timeline for the latest version of FSD beta. While discussing version 10.8 (they’re skipping 10.7), he also included a cryptic line about ‘holiday fun’.

With this being the only detail available, it has left many in the Tesla community to speculate about what features would qualify as ‘fun software’. Given Musk often commits to implementing user suggestions on Twitter, that could be a reasonable place to start and let’s hope this isn’t overhyped like last year’s double fire emoji update.

Vertical visualisation of objects

In a reply a couple of months ago, Musk suggested that they would include more of the environment around the car if they could work out a way of rendering it and making it look cool.

It is possible that in these last few months, members of the FSD team have been working on just this. When we explode this out, it’s fairly obvious to see why this will be important to Tesla.

Initially rending more of the vertical space will enable drivers to gain additional confidence that the car sees and understand the environment around it. While it does this at ground level, that feels very 2 dimensional, when the real world has a Y axis, so the car should render that.

This would be handy to see trees and bushes that overhang the road, or overhead signs and even traffic lights and speed signs that show the car understanding the correct orientation of these.

As we move to a time where the Tesla Semi hits the road, it will be increasingly important that Tesla does understand the vertical, to ensure Semi can navigate around obstacles like overhanging branches, and avoid low bridges or entries into buildings. As we see with lane changes, Tesla vehicles have a great understanding of their own dimensions and the space required for them to fit in and with a similar sense of self-preservation, Semi should avoid the low-hanging obstacles.

As for how this is visualised, there are lots of options, including fading these out as things exceed the field of view from Autopilot cameras. If Tesla has the ability to leverage object persistence and depth information derived from the computer vision AI, it’s possible they could render objects outside this field of vision which would be a neat party trick.

The best visualisations of this to date is this tweet from Tristan, where the data from the car (back on v10.5) could show the roof of a parking garage.

Smart Shift to the Model 3 and Model Y

When the Tesla Model S got refreshed this year, it came with a new software feature called Smart Shift. This deals with the issue created by removing stalks as they added the Yoke. It works by automatically determining the direction you’d like to travel and automatically shifting you into that gear – smart.

This has been discussed in relation to Tesla’s ability to deliver it to the Model 3 and Model Y which seems likely, even if you do still have driving stalks. Is this fun? Yeah sure, it could be described as fun, but it does also have a very serious element to it, given the consequences if the car ever selects incorrectly.

As a prevention to that, it’s possible Tesla deploys more of that self-preservation tech that we see from Karpathy’s talk, where a Tesla would not proceed when an object is detected, even with your foot to the floor. This would take us another important step closer to building an uncrashable car.

FSD Beta visualisations to production build (link)

There is no doubt that the millions of Tesla customers outside the US have watched millions of hours of YouTube from the FSD Beta. With each update to the visualisations, the call gets louder to deliver those FSD graphics to the production software available around the world.

With the same hardware capabilities (HW3), the car can render curbs, lanes and even roundabouts in a much more accurate way, highlighting the drivable space available to the car and ultimately you as a driver. While the visualisations wouldn’t include the control stack of the FSD Beta, it would be an olive branch to those who’ve purchased FSD and are still waiting to get the City Streets component of the package.

Refreshed Model S/X UI draggable components

With the refreshed Model S and Model X, we saw a 17″ horizontal touchscreen added, replacing the previous vertical orientation. With this, came far more real-estate (and resolution) than the 15″ version in the Model 3 and Y. These extra pixels have been put to good use with a new branch of the software that allows users to re-order icons, and a slide-out quick-access control panel to common functions.

It is possible Tesla will update the production build to include these changes in functionality.

Track mode (aka drifting) for Model S refresh.

Buying the most expensive car Tesla makes should in theory deliver the most features of any of their vehicles. The big exception to that is Track Mode which is suspiciously missing from the Model S Long Range and Plaid. Although it’s not clear how many people want to drive their Model Y, owners of the mid-sized SUV are also without Track Mode.

After Tesla upgraded Track Model to V2 in the Tesla Model 3 Performance, we saw what’s possible in terms of control over the operation of the vehicle. Being able to control the traction control (at least side ways) combined with the power distribution between the front and rear motors, enables the car to drift.

It would certainly tick the ‘fun’ box if Tesla was to include track mode for the Model S (and maybe Model Y), best save your dollars for a new set of tyres just in case.

Sonic the Hedgehog (link)

While we don’t know when Musk did confirm a new game is on its way to Tesla vehicles and that’s the famous Sonic the Hedgehog. Games are always fun, so I’d definitely place this in the highly likely club.

Christmas Light Show

The Model X is famous for having the ability to perform a Christmas song where the windows roll down, the music plays, the lights flash and the falcon wing doors open in time to the music. While no other models will be able to do the doors, it seems possible Tesla will offer a similar Christmas mode to the other models.

While we’re talking about software, the release notes for FSD Beta 10.7 have made their way to the internet, despite that release never going to the general public. There are of course many Tesla employees that would be running this development version of the software, which explains how the detail made its way to the internet.

As with previous release notes, the level of detail we get is great, offering a real insight into the incremental improvements we’re seeing in different areas of the product. If you’ve listened to FSD Beta users recently, there are a number of bullet points here that really do appear to be a response to feedback (and data) from users – great to see.

https://twitter.com/SawyerMerritt/status/1472613640771624966

If you’ve got any thoughts or ideas about what you think will be in this fun Christmas update, leave a comment below.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021
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