Technology

Tesla Is Offering The Auto Industry's First Self-Driving Software Free Trial

Making history yet again.

Believe it or not we actually get sick of writing about Tesla so much. But that sickness is brought on by the automaker doing cool constantly. OK, maybe not “constantly” but Tesla news rarely comes in a trickle. It’s more like a torrent. Hot on the heels of the debut of the Model 3, the pre-order success of said car and the recent Model S refresh comes news that Autopilot will be offered to Tesla owners free for one month. The one-month trial is available only on Model X and Model S models built from September 2014.

Normally Autopilot is a $2,500 option pre-purchase or a $3,000 add-on afterwards. However, owners who were nervous about ponying up the cash for the untested tech can now take a dive into the deep end of the autonomous driving swimming pool free of charge. The free trial is activated via an over-the-air update to the car’s software, meaning owners don’t even have to take their rides into Tesla to upgrade to Autopilot. Free software trials have been around forever, but this is the first time something like this has happened involving autonomous auto software. If Tesla’s move is a success we suspect larger automakers to copy it. Autonomous automotive tech is still in its infancy. Why would any consumer spend thousands of dollars to be a guinea pig?

A free trial lets drivers see what the tech can do and how safe it is—or isn’t. This should lead to more people purchasing autonomous driving options as they’ll have a chance to become familiar and comfortable with them for free. Now that Tesla is offering free trials of autonomous software the next question becomes, when will people start pirating it?

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