2019.8.5: On-the-loop Manoeuvres

The release notes for 2019.8.5 are nearly identical to those of 2019.8.3, and short-term observations have shown it behaving mostly the same as 2019.5.16 as well; with one notable change to AutoNavigation. The latest release of Tesla's vehicle software builds on its existing adds the option to let the vehicle determine when to switch lanes, and then act on that decision, without waiting for confirmation from the vehicle operator. The dialogues to enable the feature make it very clear1 that the driver is still responsible, but effectively this moves the driver form in the loop, requiring the driver to double-tap or signal to effect the manoeuvre, to on the loop, where the driver is informed but takes no action2 to effect the manoeuvre.

I don't know on which roads Tesla tested this feature, but I can't imagine it was on either coast: it's entirely unnatural for either driving in New England or in Tesla's home of California. To be fare, this should have been obvious from its earlier iterations–how often did you not accept its suggestions?–but I tried a couple of trips with it enabled before disabling it3 while driving along the Interstate. It performed exactly as I would expect based on previous experience, although part of me expected that there would have been a major improvement (like AutoSteer between v8 and v9) if Tesla were suddenly adding an automated AutoNavigation option.

What are some of the issues?

  • Myopic, if not simply ridiculous, lane changes. With a mile before an interchange between highways, it decided to move into the far left lane despite seeing that there was heavy traffic.

  • Standard AutoSteer limitations. Driving along the Interstate under AutoNavigation, it released AutoPilot without any warning as it came to a moderate right bend in the road.

  • Scary, if not suicidal, manoeuvre initiation. Even on the lowest aggressiveness, the car will begin a manoeuvre without apparently taking into account all of the data it has. It might begin a lane change, even when the driver's dash shows a crowd, only to swerve back into its original lane; other times it seems to begin its transition only to immediately swerve back as if it's trying to force some extra space by using its aggressive shifting to signal to drivers without fully committing to the new lane.

New in 2019.8.3

2019.8.5 followed 2019.8.3 quite closely, so I hadn't yet posted anything about 2019.8.3. Usually this means that there was some non-critical but widespread issue with the old version which could quickly be fixed by the software developers.

  • Red Light Warning–a new feature is supposed to "sometimes" warn you if you are on AutoPilot and coming to a red traffic light. I've been unable to trigger this under either 2019.8.3 and some more extensive (controlled) testing on 2019.8.5.

  • Sentry Mode–this actually sounds cool and is an example of Tesla adding new features in software utilizing the existing hardware (like the dashcam). While I haven't tested this yet, the feature is intended to co-op some of the features aftermarket cameras add. If the car detects disturbances (somebody hitting it, or somebody leaning on it), it's supposed to either alert to scare the person away, and/or upload video to Tesla, which presumably they'll make available to you or your insurance later (which would be a change from their modus operandi of only releasing data if it protects them, rather than their customers)

  • dashcam updated–speaking of the dashcam, the new features capture video from multiple cameras now, rather than just the single front-facing camera

For whatever reason, since around 2019.8.3 or at least April 1st, my Model X, Pensive, has had trouble configuring the climate controls through the API (specifically iOS app). I've successfully turned-on the climate once from the app, so it doesn't seem like a completely broken feature right now, but every other attempt (and combination of WiFi and LTE between car and app) have resulted in an error.

Tesla One Year In

I've been promising a Year One retrospective, although I'm now planning on doing that closer to 18 months. Instead, what will need to suffice is a short summary of my posts over the past year, and some anecdotes relayed from others.


There was quite a bit of news coverage of Tesla vehicles during this time frame. Some of it was positive, like that from Jeremy Clarkson and the Grand Tour, but most involved crashes. Several different Tesla drivers hit parked vehicles, notably fire-trucks, and there was an eerie crash not far from Tesla's headquarters.

Life with my Model X, Pensive


  1. in case you thought you could side step them by enabling AutoNavigation before updating, your preference is cleared by the update

  2. the car claims, and appears, to check that the driver's hands are on the wheel

  3. while awkwardly navigating menus in manual-drive mode