Put your rivals to shame on the drag strip!

Tesla just rolled out the new 8.1 software, which includes updates to Autopilot that supports version 2.0 of the driver assistance system. The upgrade essentially brings newer Model S and Model X vehicles up to date with the first-generation software by increasing the speed limit for Autosteer, among other features. Autospeed speed limit increases from 55 to 80 mph, the Summon feature lets owners call their vehicles from parking spaces without anyone behind the wheel, while the lane change feature allows drivers to have the car initiate a lane change while in Autosteer mode by using the turn signal. Finally, the software update reportedly adds a feature called "Turtle Mode."

According to sources inside Tesla that requested they remain anonymous, this mode was designed specifically for the drag strip, where the Model S has been making quite a few headlines in recent months by defeating some of the most powerful gasoline-fueled vehicles. But, unlike other race-specific modes that change the car’s settings for increased performance, this one is actually a feature that enables the Model S to win races effortlessly. Specifically, instead of the driver needing to launch as soon as the lights go green, the car launches by itself automatically. Not only that, but it also activates the throttle just in time to win the race at the very last second. Basically the Model S can leave the line later than its competitor, but still cross the finish line in first place.

Sounds a bit sci-fi right? Well, it’s Tesla and Elon Musk we’re talking about here!

The Tesla insider wasn’t very keen to provide specific details, but did say that the racing app is able to calculate how fast the other car is going by adding the make, model and year in the Model S’ computer. In the situation in which the opposition drives a modded vehicle, the system can reportedly monitor acceleration and speed and automatically compensate with throttle modulation. By doing so, the app keeps the Model S on the starting line at the beginning and launches just in time to put the car’s aerodynamic nose just ahead enough to win. Thus it eliminates the need to leave early, which makes drag racing less stressful for the driver.

The silly "Turtle Mode" name is beginning to make more sense now, right? If you still don’t get it, it means you didn’t watching too much Bugs Bunny as a kid and you definitely don’t know who Cecil Turtle is. Just google "Tortoise beats hare"...

The app that makes drag racing effortless — just like almost everything else in a Tesla — only works for quarter-mile tracks. Because it’s still a beta version, the feature can’t be used on longer drag strips, but this should change by the end of the year. "Turtle Mode" is also a hidden feature that requires a specific set of inputs to find, just like "Ludicrous Mode." Needless to say, this "Turtle" feature sounds pretty ludicrous for a car that wasn’t designed for racing, but it’s probably Tesla’s way of making fun of all those high-revving, gasoline-powered sports cars at the drag strip.

Elon Musk sure seems to have a lot of free time on his hands, but hey, I’ll take anything that would make a Challenger SRT Hellcat driver burst in tears at the end of the quarter-mile run. Hopefully the Model S will be as efficient against the Challenger SRT Demon too.


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