Software Updates

Software Updates

Anyone know how this is initiated. I have had my model S since mid-june. I don't really have any complaints. However, it appears that I have software 4.5 but the .51 version. It appears they have released 2 since then, .54 and .59. I'm assuming these are minor bug fixes but it does bother me I haven't recieved any of the updates. Anyone else have this problem? Just want to know whether I'm going to get the 4.6 and beyond update when it becomes available...

andrigtmiller | 19. Juli 2013

I am still on 4.4.

jay.kropp | 19. Juli 2013

I guess that's my point. You are on 4.4. But don't you want to use plugin power when connected for things such as air conditioning or heat? And why haven't you gotten an update to 4.5? That just seems wrong to me...

KendallPB | 19. Juli 2013

They roll it out in stages--not all at once to every owner. There's no way to force it to update until Tesla signals your car that it has a new update to download. Tesla can force it (e.g., at a Service Center) but I doubt they do that except to resolve specific problems (i.e., not just because someone asks) . . . though you could ask your local Service Center (if any), and find out. ;-)

I wonder if the delay for andrigtmiller is due to Tesla's pulling earlier 4.5 and releasing a later one, partway through release (just a guess).

Captain_Zap | 19. Juli 2013

One benefit from rolling out the updates in stages is that Tesla receives feedback from drivers about the update before it is completely rolled out and Tesla responds to it.

They are continuously optimizing the car in subtle ways.

negarholger | 20. Juli 2013

It also depends how good the connection is. My garage has a metal roof and it never downloads while in the garage. It only downloads when I am parked at work.

nickjhowe | 20. Juli 2013

Version 5.5 has been reported on the demo cars in Norway. Includes support for the winter pack, PDC and Wifi. See the software version wiki on TMC for what few details there are, and links to screen shots.

JAFIC | 20. Juli 2013

It won't be good to roll out to everyone all at the same time. Everyone tries to update at the same time = massive traffic on server = server crash. Not Cool.

dirkhh | 20. Juli 2013

Sorry, but that's of course nonsense. There are < 15k Teslas out there. If your server can't handle parallel download by that tiny user base, get a new CIO.

But the issue is that if there is a bug in there that causes all the owners to call the service hotline then the call center will collapse and the users will have a very bad experience. And that's really bad for business.

So you roll this out a few dozen cars at a time. And my guess is that if your car didn't have reception while it was offered the update it moves back to the end of the line. So if you park overnight in a spot with no 3G it's possible that it takes quite a while til you get an update.

stephen.kamichik | 20. Juli 2013

RandallPB....My service center updated my MS (I requested it). It was also there for some adjustments.

sxross | 20. Juli 2013

Has anyone else found connectivity in the garage is an issue, as @Kleist reports? I've not received an update and I know a couple are out there ITW.

keichhor | 20. Juli 2013

Yup 4.4 here still. I am bringing my MS in to service center as well to have it updated.

Brian H | 20. Juli 2013

The garage shouldn't be a problem, unless you never leave it.

jay.kropp | 20. Juli 2013

I get perfect reception in my garage and I have yet to receieve an update. I'm on .51.

JPPTM | 20. Juli 2013

Just back from the Fremont SC to pick up my S85 (delivered early May) which had been running an old release of V. 4.4. The SC updated me to the latest v. 4.5 release. They seemed a bit surprised that in 2 months I had not seen any version of v. 4.5 pushed to me.

bp | 20. Juli 2013

Bandwidth for downloading shouldn't be an issue.

This seems more a symptom of their current update strategy - rollout to small groups of owners - identify new problems - stop the rollout - fix the new problems - rollout to another small group of owners - and repeat until no major problems are found.

This strategy is going to start causing them problems - some owners will not be happy with having buggy software in their cars.

And, the cars are going to be running a wide range of software versions - which is happening now with owners on 4.4 and multiple intermediate versions of 4.5.

This could be fixed with a few very simple changes.

First, owners should always be able to "roll back" to the previous major version. In this case, 4.4. That way if there's a problem with a software release, it will always be possible to uninstall the buggy release and roll back to something that was stable. It would be the owner's decision.

Second, owners should be able to "opt in" to the beta test program. Those owners willing to try new (possibly unstable) releases, can volunteer to be the beta testers. But the risk should be much lower, if Tesla has already verified roll back to the last stable release is successful - so the beta testers always have an escape.

Third, Tesla should have a more formal system for reporting problems - than sending e-mails or posting issues on the forums. This would make it easier to identify problems that others have already found - and for Tesla to interact with the reporting owners to get clarifications on issues - and to report to those owners when a new update is supposed to fix their problems.

These would all be simple changes to implement - and should greatly improve the software release situation WITHOUT SLOWING DOWN the software releases - and they need to be even more aggressive in getting new functionality out - at least until they can get the functionality - across the board - to a reasonable (and competitive) level.

This situation is only going to continue to get worse, as they are adding 400 to 500 to 800 new owners - each week...

Dramsey | 20. Juli 2013

Personally, I wonder why you can't just download the current software (and perhaps the last few versions) from Tesla's web site, stick it on a USB key, and update your car that way.

My 2011 Taurus SHO could do this, and lots of cars these days offer similar capabilities.

Captain_Zap | 21. Juli 2013


I think they want to pace them out to see how it goes in the real world. A few smaller batches, a few bigger batches and then a blitz. One little bug and they would be getting tons of notifications from customers. This keeps the situation manageable. I think that they follow update rollouts much more closely at Tesla Motors Club.

ir | 21. Juli 2013

@Dramsey, if Tesla's SW team is already over-taxed, the last thing they need to do is to test upgrades AND downgrades. Since Tesla controls updates, they can manage the number of versions "in the wild". Allowing end-user USB updates pretty much guarantees that they need to support versions and downgrades all the way back to 1.0 FOREVER! That is not what a tiny SW team working hard on the next feature needs.

Speaking from professional experience, allowing USB updates gives "modders" lots of room to brick their cars (recall a certain incident with a "revolutionary" phone). Again, not something the SW team of a startup wants to deal with when the top priority feature list is miles long!

Cut them some slack. I've worked round the clock for consumer electronic releases and I can sympathize with their team. Except for them, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for at least another few YEARS (S features, upcoming X, Gen III, app SDK...).

dirkhh | 21. Juli 2013

The team clearly is too small given the size of the challenge. If you look at the work it takes to fix the power drain, add features, add localizations, test the changes in the various scenarios you can encounter while driving... it's massive.

Typical software, when it fails, causes someone to have to restart the software (or the computer). Software that fails in a car going 100mph, a car charging at 120kW, etc - possibly a lot more dangerous.

So they want to be slow and methodical. And they want to have as few versions out there in the wild as possible. That's the only thing that puzzles me about this. Why are there still people on 4.4? The latest two 4.5 versions that most people seem to be having (and have had for a while now) seem reasonably stable and bug free (I'm talking critical bugs - not the vampire drain). Why not push everyone onto the latest 4.5 while frantically working on 5.5?

JPPTM | 21. Juli 2013

ir--also, do you want the risk of uploading a virus or malware from a USB drive while doing an upgrade/update? And I wonder if the updates other auto manufacturers push out have such deep and broad effects on vehicle performance and safety as do the ones we get on our Model S? Is this a risk I want to take???

Brian H | 21. Juli 2013

Although it's cache and install, I think there is a real-time track of each install as it progresses, so it does form a server bottleneck. The # installing at any given time is almost certainly limited to what that process can handle.

dirkhh | 21. Juli 2013

@Brian H -- not sure what your background is. But trust me. 10000 parallel downloads and installs shouldn't even make a dent in a well designed server infrastructure.
Ask your friends who work at Facebook or Google about the kind of load that gets a modern backend down to its knees. Tesla is years from having a user base big enough to come close.

This is NOT about server capacity. Seriously. This is about the risk of getting overwhelmed with support calls. Nothing else.

(And in case you are wondering - yes, I have built server infrastructure that often delivers more than a TB a day and frequently has more than 10000 people downloading data at the same time.)

ir | 21. Juli 2013

@Brian H: I agree with Dirkhh, server capacity is not a problem. A firmware update is nothing more than hosting a ZIP file. Many companies farm this out to Amazon, Akamai, etc.... All Tesla HQ needs to do is send each car a "download, verify and install this URL" command (less than 1KB), something one could do in a few minutes with a shell script over DSL if you have the right encryption keys (10MB)

As far as real-time tracking, the download hosting network can track successful downloads and 10,000 cars sending "0%, 1%... 99%, Done" is hardly what I would call a taxing workload. If each progress message (100) was 1KB (very generous) for 10,000 cars would amount to 1GB of messages which I could pull down in a few minutes on my home Internet connection. Again, hardly taxing.

As far as security goes the ZIP file just needs the cryptographic signature to verify.

GReese | 21. Juli 2013

If server capacity is an issue at 15k cars, Tesla has a very big problem on their hands.

I don't think it's that. I think the issue is that they are learning about how to manage the process as they go and are trying to control as many variables as possible. I would expect over time that it will get more predictable.

bp | 21. Juli 2013

There are so many different versions of software installed now - it's impossible for Tesla to test upgrading from all of these versions. Owners are on versions starting with 4.4 plus many intermediate releases of 4.5 9and the European 5.5).

Tesla's current software release process will not scale as Tesla is building 500 to 800 new cars each week - this is going to become a real nightmare for support and owners will grow weary of getting buggy releases.

My recommendation was for them to always test every update to verify that it would go back to the last stable, major, software release. This would mean that every time they test a new build of 4.5 - that they would always verify they could go back to 4.4.

And, if they had any concerns about upgrading between intermediate 4.5 releases - to be safe, they could always force the car to downgrade back to 4.4 - and then do a fresh 4.5 upgrade from 4.4.

They can't possible test upgrading to the latest 4.5 release from every previous minor 4.5 release!

Supporting upgrading from and downgrading back to the latest major release would actually be much simpler for their software group to test - before distributing any software releases.

And, it would eliminate most of the risk for owners - if an owner uncovered a major problem - they would always be able to rollback to the previous major release.

How many different versions of 4.5 are floating around? I was upgraded several months ago to an intermediate release - and haven't been upgraded since then - but others have reported multiple 4.5 minor updates since then.

Surely a Silicon Valley company can figure out a better strategy for releasing software updates to the cars - without slowing down delivering new features...

nickjhowe | 21. Juli 2013

@bp - some owners are still on 4.1 - they didn't want to give up the sleep mode.

As for software versions:
5.5 (v1.35.76)
4.5 (v1.33.38, .43, .44, .48, 51, .54, .59, .61)
4.4 (v1.31.11)
4.3 (v1.25.35, .40, .45)
4.2 (v1.19.41, .42, .49)
4.1 (v1.19.27, .29, .31)
4.0 (v1.17.50)

There may have been others, but these were the ones reported by owners.

Brian H | 21. Juli 2013

I was more envisioning real-time monitoring of install progress, with a profusion of checkpoints. Some of the s/w goes way beyond graphics and cosmetics, with the ~52 separate computers controlling the drive train etc., and a lot more than checksums are needed to validate the installs.

Robert22 | 21. Juli 2013

The bottleneck is real and WILL crash their servers which is the reason for the measured rollouts as well as feedback. They distribute based on climate, etc. to get the most complete picture of how the software is performing in a variety of situations and locales. I fully understand the points made above, but after talking to ownership in detail about this issue about two months ago, it was indeed a real issue (or so they said). They also said in the future there would be the capacity for much larger simultaneous rollouts but your guess is as good as mine as to the definition of "future".

KendallPB | 21. Juli 2013

@steven.kamichi et al.: Interesting, and good to know, that Service Centers will update on request.

@bp: It's the owner's choice to upgrade, so they have to deal with people on multiple versions anyway. I like the roll-back idea, but I suspect that a Service Center could roll back a car if a bug was truly causing a major problem. So I doubt we'll see that. I'm sure many, many owners would want to beta test, but like most companies, they prefer a closed beta, it seems. I have no issue with that. As far as reporting problems, and calling/visiting a Service Center seem to be the ways, but forums are not a problem reporting venue...people just like to do that! ;-) But anyway, I've found ownership responsive when I report bugs; actually I thought that was the formal/official way to report bugs, but maybe it's not.

@dirkhh: Mostly not dangerous at 100mph; things are pretty well isolated. I've rebooted both screens while driving, as have others. I don't think the software updates are touching how the care actually moves, for the most part...?

Brian H | 22. Juli 2013

Updates and rebooting are different as chalk and cheese. The car MUST be parked for updates.

dirkhh | 22. Juli 2013

@Brian - I actually would prefer to have the reboots happen while I'm parked as well.

@Kendall - my point was that you want to make sure that a two and a half ton "computer" moving at 100 mph might run into different issues when something is wrong in software than your iPad. Let's say a software bug suddenly sends the volume to 11. That might seriously startle and distract the driver. So if you are Tesla you want to make /sure/ this doesn't happen. And you want to make extra sure this doesn't happen to all of your owners on the same day.

JPPTM | 22. Juli 2013

FWIW, last Friday 7/19 my S85 was updated at the Fremont SC to 4.5 (1.33.59).