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Surprising Science

Car’s Online Tune-Up Replaces Mechanic with Computer

With car's on-board computer systems become more complex it was only time before they started receiving online updates, the same as a laptop or cell phone.

What’s the Latest Development?


In the computer world, updates are a necessary part of making sure that your laptop or iPad or cell phone is running as smoothly as possible. The time has come for cars to get tune-ups by online update as well, with the electric powered Tesla Model S. “Over 100 Model S drivers will receive the auto industry’s first ever over-the-air operating system update for their new sedans within the next two weeks, Tesla says. In addition to a handful of minor code changes, the mandatory upgrade to 1.9.11 will tweak the range calculator to lower the car’s estimated driving range by 45 miles.”

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What’s the Big Idea?

Tesla’s update system runs on either 3G or a home WiFi connection and allows the driver to set a time for the update, when the car is parked. While Tesla is the first company to send out an online update for their cars, Mercedes Benz and Chrysler are planning on sending over-the-air updates for specific models by next year. As the computers inside cars become as complex and connected as our handheld devices, it only makes sense that these updates are the first wave of something that will soon become the norm.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


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