Tesla's Latest Sedan Gets Faster with a Wireless Software Update

Tesla's Latest Sedan Gets Faster with a Wireless Software Update

Tesla Model S 2015 310x

A firmware update shaves 0.1 seconds off of the 0-60 time.

We all get firmware updates pushed wirelessly to our phones, our consoles, even our refrigerators (if you're cool like that). But our cars? No (for most of us, at least).

But that's how Tesla Motors handles firmware on the Model S sedan, including the latest iteration of the four-door saloon: The P85D. Most of these cellular-based firmware updates tweak battery settings, in-cabin tech, and so on, but the next P85D update will put a little extra rubber on the road.

"Tesla P85D 0 to 60mph acceleration will improve by ~0.1 sec soon via over-the-air software update to inverter algorithm," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter today. The inverter controls current flow in the P85D, and the update presumably alters the algorithm to provide more flow when the car launches (or if you aren't on a drag strip, when you put your foot on the accelerator).

The update will also improve acceleration on the standard, non-dual motor version of the Model S, but not as significantly.

The P85D is already one of the fastest cars off the line, with an advertised 0-to-60 speed of 3.2 seconds. Bringing that down to 3.1 seconds doesn't have a dramatic impact on the rarefied air the P85D basks in already, but it does bring the time in line with some seriously super...supercars, like the 2012 Pagani Huayra -- a $1.6 million ride.

Musk went on to say that the original intent of the dual-motor P85D was to gain "insane traction on snow," and that "...insane speed was a side effect." If my aging all-wheel drive Subaru Outback handles the snow like a champ, imagine what this sucker can do.

Source: Elon Musk (Twitter)

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Am I the only one REALLY uneasy about the fact that a vehicle has updatable firmware? One that can be accessed automatically and remotely? And said firmware controls the vehicle's acceleration and (probably) steering and lord knows what else? Granted, I've had my eye on Teslas since they first came out and I think they're awesome cars but I don't like the fact that I'm at the mercy of software (yeah I know every vehicle is run on some kind of software or OS technically but this feels different). Probably just me being paranoid

ddrkreature:
Am I the only one REALLY uneasy about the fact that a vehicle has updatable firmware? One that can be accessed automatically and remotely? And said firmware controls the vehicle's acceleration and (probably) steering and lord knows what else? Granted, I've had my eye on Teslas since they first came out and I think they're awesome cars but I don't like the fact that I'm at the mercy of software (yeah I know every vehicle is run on some kind of software or OS technically but this feels different). Probably just me being paranoid


However I like the idea, I already trust google, apple, and valve. If tesla can gain my trust, why not?.

ddrkreature:
Am I the only one REALLY uneasy about the fact that a vehicle has updatable firmware? One that can be accessed automatically and remotely? And said firmware controls the vehicle's acceleration and (probably) steering and lord knows what else? Granted, I've had my eye on Teslas since they first came out and I think they're awesome cars but I don't like the fact that I'm at the mercy of software (yeah I know every vehicle is run on some kind of software or OS technically but this feels different). Probably just me being paranoid

Well, modern cars are already quite reliant on computer technology. I'd rather have it the ability to receive updates if that is the case. If there ends up being a problem, why not fix it? Whether that's software or hardware.

However, what I definitely do not want is my car to be networked at all times. The idea that my car is vulnerable to outside digital attacks while I'm driving will not ever sit well with me. In that regard I'm a lot like good ol' Will Adama.

ddrkreature:
Am I the only one REALLY uneasy about the fact that a vehicle has updatable firmware? One that can be accessed automatically and remotely? And said firmware controls the vehicle's acceleration and (probably) steering and lord knows what else? Granted, I've had my eye on Teslas since they first came out and I think they're awesome cars but I don't like the fact that I'm at the mercy of software (yeah I know every vehicle is run on some kind of software or OS technically but this feels different). Probably just me being paranoid

This is not unique to Tesla cars. if you got a modern car that has wifi based connection to engine ocmputer (older ones require a wire, because in the 80s wifi wasnt a thing yet) you could in theory spoof that computer to disable breaks (except handbreak which is manual in most cars for exactly the purpose of electronic malfunction), remove power steering, change amount of gas pushed into the engine cylinders (which essentually means you could control acceleration), ect.

So you are already trusting your car manufacturers if you drive something newer than 25 years. its just that normally only licensed techs have software to connect to those computers for testing whereas this from what i understand can be user controlled and thus much more prone to user fault.

ddrkreature:
Am I the only one REALLY uneasy about the fact that a vehicle has updatable firmware? One that can be accessed automatically and remotely? And said firmware controls the vehicle's acceleration and (probably) steering and lord knows what else? Granted, I've had my eye on Teslas since they first came out and I think they're awesome cars but I don't like the fact that I'm at the mercy of software (yeah I know every vehicle is run on some kind of software or OS technically but this feels different). Probably just me being paranoid

It's not an invalid concern. Plenty of cars are software controlled to a huge degree, but this seems unique in that the wireless capabilities are a possible entry point for whoever would want to mess with a car like that, whereas most cars are almost totally closed off from any software inteference.

Still, it's worth remembering that the "scarier" something seems, the more effort gets put into its safety. It's been well known for a while that stairs are more likely to kill you than an elevator because elevators scare the shit out of paranoid people, so they have about 20 safety measures, while stairs have none.

Is it weird that I both love slightly older mechanical ways of doing things, mechanical throttle control, less intrusive traction control systems that don't always try to second guess what you're doing so you have to turn them off, and the new Teslas?

Having a 4 door car with those 0-60 numbers is simply ridiculous. Now it doesn't have supercar top speed, but the acceleration! Also since it's a direct drive AWD system, you can drive it in snow.

A Tesla is one of those lottery cars for me. If I ever find myself in a position to get one, I definitely would. It's an electric luxury car. What's better than that?

That is a horrible fucking idea, if they can change shit on the fly so can anyone who digs deep enough.
Granted not many hackers will see the benefit of that, but it wouldn't take more then one looney to let shit go up in smoke, literally.

Birdbrain fucking engineers tying critical systems directly to the bloody internet, how could it possibly go wrong...

It's very likely that the car cannot be in operation while the update mode is even active. Modern design in transportation is very VERY hardcore about safety design and if you thought of it to write in a comment section it's very likely they have as well.

At the very least if you have questions about the safety of wireless updates I 100% guarantee you the company will field your call about it.

Yeah, it seems a questionable idea at best to have cars being able to be modified remotely. This looks like one of those things that no one worries much about until some terrorist group uses it to randomly crash a few thousand cars. I have a sneaking suspicion that this design decision will eventually seem naive and idiotic in retrospect.

And BMW fixed a security issue which allowed hackers to exploit the connect drive feature to unlock the car via a wireless connection the update was installed automatically. Big fucking deal: Online software updates in 2015...

Wandrecanada:
It's very likely that the car cannot be in operation while the update mode is even active. Modern design in transportation is very VERY hardcore about safety design and if you thought of it to write in a comment section it's very likely they have as well.

At the very least if you have questions about the safety of wireless updates I 100% guarantee you the company will field your call about it.

If they were that hardcore about security, they wouldn't use wireless connections for firmware updates, period. Wireless is inherently less secure, and the only benefit I can think of is end-user convenience (until someone finds a security flaw and remotely bricks your car).

Strazdas:
except handbreak which is manual in most cars for exactly the purpose of electronic malfunction

This is me being a bit anal about it I suppose, but your cars brakes won't fail in the event of an electronic malfunction. I can't think of any car, except perhaps some that are being tested with electric brakes right now, where the brakes aren't hydraulic. So if you had the unfortunate luck of having a hydraulic failure in both sets of brake lines (your brakes are diagonally split from the master cylinder so if you lose pressure at any single brake you'll still have a front brake and a rear brake on the opposite side) and all of the brakes fail, then you're in trouble.

Ironically, the parking brake won't help you then because not only are they substantially less effective than your service brakes, most people forget about them in an emergency, a lot of cars use a hard to reach in an emergency pedal for the parking brake, and if they are cable operated and you don't use the parking brake at least a few times a year it is very prone to seizing and failing to engage completely when you do try to use it. Especially if you live in a climate with harsh winters, snow, ice, salt, and all that good stuff, and if you drive an automatic, in which case you likely never use the thing. The irony of people calling the parking brake the emergency brake is that it's more prone to failure and less likely to ever be used these days. Better off steering into the ditch 9 times out of 10.

change amount of gas pushed into the engine cylinders (which essentually means you could control acceleration)

Also being anal, but just increasing the amount of fuel injected into the cylinders alone won't increase the acceleration much (might decrease it a lot though, especially if it's not all burned and you flood the engine). You'd have to open the air intake more as well to keep a good combustion ratio. That said, it could be done since I can't think of any modern cars with a direct linkage to the throttle from the accelerator.

Vivi22:

Strazdas:
except handbreak which is manual in most cars for exactly the purpose of electronic malfunction

This is me being a bit anal about it I suppose, but your cars brakes won't fail in the event of an electronic malfunction. I can't think of any car, except perhaps some that are being tested with electric brakes right now, where the brakes aren't hydraulic. So if you had the unfortunate luck of having a hydraulic failure in both sets of brake lines (your brakes are diagonally split from the master cylinder so if you lose pressure at any single brake you'll still have a front brake and a rear brake on the opposite side) and all of the brakes fail, then you're in trouble.

Ironically, the parking brake won't help you then because not only are they substantially less effective than your service brakes, most people forget about them in an emergency, a lot of cars use a hard to reach in an emergency pedal for the parking brake, and if they are cable operated and you don't use the parking brake at least a few times a year it is very prone to seizing and failing to engage completely when you do try to use it. Especially if you live in a climate with harsh winters, snow, ice, salt, and all that good stuff, and if you drive an automatic, in which case you likely never use the thing. The irony of people calling the parking brake the emergency brake is that it's more prone to failure and less likely to ever be used these days. Better off steering into the ditch 9 times out of 10.

change amount of gas pushed into the engine cylinders (which essentually means you could control acceleration)

Also being anal, but just increasing the amount of fuel injected into the cylinders alone won't increase the acceleration much (might decrease it a lot though, especially if it's not all burned and you flood the engine). You'd have to open the air intake more as well to keep a good combustion ratio. That said, it could be done since I can't think of any modern cars with a direct linkage to the throttle from the accelerator.

When i was talking about electronic malfunction in breaking system i meant things like the onboard computer going crazy for whatever reason and deciding that ABS system needs to be activated to the point where no breaking is possible, hand break will still work in such situations. I did not intend to mean the hydraulic failure. after all we were talking about car being hackable.

You are correct that the breaks are ineffective in comparison, however its still better than not having any breaks and assuming no acceleration from engine its capable of stopping a car. as far as people forgetting it in an emergency, well, thats hardly the fault of cars themselves.

Yes, parking breaks are quite prone to failure when unused, however if you use them as per driving rules here (if you park up/downhill, including at red light, you must use parking break (of course many drivers dont always follow this) it will not go stale. Our bi-yearly mandatory car check to make it street legal also requires the break to work at a certain efficiency (so one that has very little stopping power actually fail the test).

Automatic is still a "not even thinking about it" thing here. while i have driven in one (and it was interesting) 99.9% of cars on the road here are manuals. they dont even have driving tests for automatic-only here because noone really drives that. i know thats different in places like US.

Parking break works if its maintained properly. not as good as regular breaks of course but its better than no breaks.

as for your second comment, im aware of that but for the sake of simplicity decided to use the short version "more fuel" because it did not appear that the user really required the detailed explanation.

The entire point of my post there was simply to point out that even our current modern cars are "hackable" so the "they are going to hack your car" scare is not a real one.

 

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