Tesla adds Atari games and dash camera feature in new software update

Tesla has officially released the ninth version of its in-car software, which includes a new dash cam feature, Atari games (playable when parked), improved navigation, and more in what the company calls its “most substantial update yet.” Software version 9.0, as it’s called, is available to download on all Tesla cars now. Owners just have to connect their cars to a Wi-Fi hotspot to begin the update.

There are no advances for Tesla’s driver assistance system, Autopilot, though. CEO Elon Musk promised earlier this year that Tesla would start unlocking more of the features that he says will eventually make the company’s cars completely able to drive themselves. But the first of those features, called Navigate, is now listed as “coming soon” on the company’s website. (Musk said on Twitter that the feature needs “a few more weeks of validation.”)

Version 9.0 allows Tesla cars built after August 2017 to operate a “dash cam” mode. With this feature on, the car will record and store video from its front-facing camera in 10-minute clips. The new software update also adds new navigation features, with more detailed turn-by-turn directions, and better information on upcoming turns and exits on the highway.

Another new feature from the 9.0 update will also reduce the available acceleration at low speeds when the car sees an obstacle in its path, which Tesla says reduces the chance of a driver accidentally accelerating out of panic. The display behind the steering wheel now shows different types of vehicles, too, like bikes and trucks. This is instead of using a car to represent all objects detected by the car’s sensors and cameras, like before. Tesla says all eight of its cars’ external cameras are now active, which provides a “full 360-degree” view that creates “better situational awareness on the road.”

As usual, the new software includes some Easter eggs, this time in the form of Atari video games. The company doesn’t say which ones are included, or where people can find them in the software. The games can be played when the car is in park, using a mixture of the touchscreen and steering wheel controls. Musk said he was hoping to include Pole Position, Missile Command, and Tempest when he initially tweeted the idea in August.

Lastly, the Model 3 is getting a web browser and calendar in version 9.0, and apps on all of Tesla’s cars should be easier to access. Climate controls have been consolidated, too.

Tesla says it will have cars that update to version 9.0 run Navigate in “shadow mode,” essentially letting part of the car’s brain pretend that the feature is working, in order to help validate the software ahead of its release. Navigate will then be released to US customers in beta. Other, even more advanced features of Autopilot will be released in the following months, according to the company.

Tesla says Navigate is the “most advanced Autopilot feature ever.” It allows the car to guide itself — with driver supervision, Tesla says as a reminder — from on-ramp to off-ramp, can suggest lane changes, handle highway interchanges, and even take exits. Navigate is “designed to make finding and following the most efficient path to your destination even easier on the highway,” Tesla says.

Navigate will also have a new safety feature that forces the driver to confirm lane changes. Right now, drivers using Autopilot just flip the turn signal to have their car automatically change lanes. Navigate makes the driver do this twice. Tesla is also beefing up its blind spot monitoring by using the side and rear-facing cameras to help the rear-facing ultrasonic sensors detect when another car is creeping up beside you.