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The Tesla Model S will soon take a major update to its control and infotainment software, with the global move to ‘version 7’ adding important new safety and convenience features.

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Key new features in the software update include automated parallel parking, side collision warning, automatic emergency steering, Autosteer, and automatic lane changing.

Tesla has also updated the instrument display in the Model S to highlight output from the car’s various safety features, including lane departure warning, speed assist, collision warning, and adaptive cruise control.

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VIDEO: Elon Musk explains AutoPilot

The new safety features will be available to all Model S vehicles with the requisite hardware. To access the convenience items on eligible cars, drivers will need to pay a one-off fee if they haven’t done so already.

When the Autosteer function is engaged, the Model S will keep itself in its current lane and regulate its speed via the traffic-aware cruise control feature.

During the announcement today, Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, went to great pains to note that the Autosteer feature is very much in ‘beta’ mode, and will be displayed as such to the driver.

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At this stage, it’s necessary for the driver to remain alert and keep their hands on the steering wheel.

In Autosteer mode, if the driver engages the turn signal, the Model S will shift into the next lane when it determines that it’s safe to do so.

During a Q&A session, Musk was asked who is liable if an accident occurs when the automatic lane changing feature is used. “The driver is still liable,” he replied.

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Although the outspoken CEO believes that in the future self-driving software will be “way better” than humans, at present the software is not as good as a person in some ways and better in others.

According to Musk, the company will begin uploading the version 7 software tonight and it should on all Model S vehicles in North America within a few days.

Tesla is still awaiting regulatory approval in Europe and Asia, though, and the software update is at least “a week out”.

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