Tesla's big Autopilot update starts rolling out tonight

Release will be 'gradual', says Elon Musk

Tesla's new Autopilot 8.0 software will begin rolling out tonight, CEO Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday morning, though the release of the over-the-air update will be "gradual."

The reason for the drip approach? Musk says it's "to make sure there aren't small regressions. Many car configs, many environments."

Version 8 (v8.0) of the company's software is a big one - Musk describes it as "a major overhaul on almost every level compared to V7" in another tweet.

Safety priority

The update will allow a Tesla to rely more heavily on radar over its camera systems to detect upcoming objects, which should mean safer driving in Autopilot mode. Musk said in a blog post describing the update that "the car should almost always hit the brakes correctly even if a UFO were to land on the freeway in zero visibility conditions."

The new and improved software has been a huge priority for the company following a fatal accident involving a Tesla in Autopilot mode earlier this year.

A leak this week gave us a preview of the new UI changes drivers can expect with v8.0, which also includes always-on max temperature control settings, among other improvements.

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As the US News Editor, Michelle (Twitter, Google+) keeps her eye on all things tech with particular interest on phones, tablets and finding out who the people are behind the devices. Any phone that can survive a regular (accidental) drop has her vote for best handset. Michelle previously worked covering local news in the Bay Area and has been with TechRadar since July 2012.