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Tesla Updates In-Car Software after Hacks, Deaths

Tesla updated its software to make it harder to hack their cars and easier to survive its Autopilot feature.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

If it wasn’t for hackers controlling their cars remotely — and drivers dying while using its Autopilot function – Tesla would be enjoying a great couple of months. To get its corporate luck rolling again, Tesla announced a software update aimed at fixing all of the above.

In the wake of a successful test hacking this week that put Chinese technicians in charge of a Tesla from 12 miles away, the automaker released a software security update for all of its cars. The update was already inbound to improve the Autopilot system, so the security improvement seems like a last minute bonus.

Also: Tesla, Mobileye Divorce after First Autopilot Death

The new software also seeks to improve Tesla’s Autopilot self-driving system. Autopilot faults killed drivers in Florida and China, so Tesla broke off its working relationship with Mobileye and looked to improve the “radar” its cars use when the driver’s hands are off the wheel.

So, now we wait and see. Will the software upgrades improve Tesla’s security and make it more difficult (…Impossible would be nice…) for third parties to control the cars’ brakes and other components? Are the days of Autopilot acting like Auto-Helen Keller and plowing drivers into trucks over?

Tesla-Autopilot-Model-S

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released safety guidelines this week focused on setting standards for autonomous cars. All of those recommendations are voluntary. I can’t make this stuff up sometimes.

Government enforces safety policies on our lives at every opportunity, but it’s hands off with self-driving cars. Somewhere at some time, someone decided we all need self-driving cars. I didn’t ask for it. None of my friends want it. Maybe you’d like to see it, but I can’t speak to that. All that seems to matter is that it’s now elite groupthink that autonomous driving is a must, and it’s full speed ahead without a human foot on the gas pedal — regardless of whatever disasters we encounter along the way.