Tesla Adds Smart Assistant With Software Update, Replacing Voice Commands in China [Video]

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla Adds Smart Assistant in China
Tesla Adds Smart Assistant in China
Not a Tesla App

An early version of Tesla's 2023.44 update in China, has transformed its vehicles' voice command feature into a fully functional smart assistant. This assistant extends beyond vehicle control, offering features like weather updates, stock market insights, language translation, and even the recitation of Tang poetry. This development leads to speculation: is Grōk, xAI’s advanced AI model, already along for a ride or is Tesla leveraging a different service?

Grōk's Potential Role in Tesla's AI Evolution

The integration of Grōk AI into Tesla's fleet came up a few months ago when Elon Musk made a post on X that predicted that Grōk (smaller quantized) would run “native” in Tesla using local compute power. Musk then replied: Provided our vehicle AI computer is able to run the model, Tesla will probably have the most amount of true usable inference compute on Earth.

While it is not confirmed if Grōk is powering the new smart assistant in China, the possibility aligns with Tesla's trajectory towards more sophisticated AI applications in its vehicles. China also received another new feature in the update that is unavailable in other regions, a traffic light countdown.

User Impressions: A Glimpse into AI's Future in Automotive

Early feedback from Tesla users in China suggests that the new smart assistant offers a notably enhanced and intelligent experience, differentiating it from the previous basic voice command system. A Not a Tesla App reader told us that this is an authentic voice assistant. You can check the weather, stock prices, and other information.

That sounds like a young Grōk could be involved, considering its capabilities in handling complex interactions and live content processing.

Introducing this advanced assistant raises questions about Tesla's strategy in AI development. While the specifics of Tesla's partnerships in this arena remain unclear, the company's track record suggests a strong preference for in-house development, or at least leveraging products from Musk’s sister companies. The involvement of Grōk, a product of Musk's xAI, further points to Tesla's independent approach to using its AI capabilities.

The Scope of Grōk in Enhancing Tesla's AI Features

If Grōk is part of Tesla's new smart assistant, vehicle-user interaction could significantly leap. Grōk's advanced processing capabilities could enhance various aspects of the driving experience, from improved voice recognition to more intuitive responses, though its exact role in the current update remains speculative.

Musk's recent ventures into AI with xAI and Grōk have been closely watched, with many anticipating how these technologies would integrate into Tesla's product line. Musk's vision of incorporating AI like Grōk into Tesla's vehicles could greatly improve how we interact with the car. However, this integration's exact nature and timeline are still subjects of speculation.

While it's not confirmed if Grōk is powering this feature, the speculation aligns with Tesla's known ambitions in AI. Tesla's introduction of a new smart assistant in China is the latest advancement as Tesla tries to keep up with other vehicles that have already incorporated their own AI assistants like NIO or have leveraged existing services like Google Assistant in vehicles like Polestar.

Tesla’s holiday update, which includes the smart assistant in China started rolling out today. We’ll have to wait and see how well this feature works as it rolls out to more users. It’ll hopefully become available in additional languages and countries in the coming months.

Tesla Introduces Most Affordable Car: Long Range RWD Model 3 with 363-Mile Range for $34,990

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla has brought back the Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive variant, which starts at $42,490. However, due to the batteries in the Long Range model, it qualifies for the $7,500 federal EV rebate. This makes this new model the cheapest model in Tesla’s lineup after the federal rebate that comes off at the point of sale.

After the federal rebate, this model is $34,990, exactly $4,000 less than the standard RWD model with the smaller LFP battery.

Improved Range

The Long Range RWD variant boasts a range of 363mi (vs 341mi for the AWD, and 272mi for the regular RWD), and a 0-60mph of 4.9sec (vs 4.2sec for the AWD). This makes the new Long Range RWD Model 3 Tesla’s longest-range economic vehicle (Model 3 / Model Y). The Model S AWD boasts an impressive 402-mile EPA estimate.

Other than the lack of a front motor for handling in rough or slippery terrain, or having a faster 0-60, the Long Range RWD is a fantastic option for most people.

It’s worth noting that only the Long Range AWD model can unlock Tesla’s Acceleration Boost, which increases power and reduces the vehicle’s 0-60 times by about half a second.

Model

Price

Price After Rebate

0-60 MPH

Range

Model 3 RWD

$38,990

-

5.8s

272mi

Model 3 LR RWD

$42,490

$34,990

4.9s

363mi

Model 3 LR AWD

$47,490

$39,990

4.2s

341mi

Model 3 Performance

$54,990

$47,490

2.9s

303mi

Availability

For now, the Model 3 Long Range RWD model is only available in the United States, with no availability in Canada.

Tesla FSD V12.5 to Combine City and Highway Stacks, Introduce Vehicle-to-Fleet Communication and More

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

As FSD V12.4.3 continues to get released to more vehicles, Elon Musk has posted that FSD V12.5 is already in testing and will include several key features.

The improvements in v12.5 are supposed to focus on rarer, more complex situations and vehicle-to-fleet communication. Tesla’s Autopilot lead, Ashok Elluswamy, also mentioned that FSD would gain the ability to go in reverse around this time.

Merge City & Highway Stacks

FSD v12 has been a multi-stack setup so far, with a city-streets stack that is end-to-end, and an older highway stack that was carried over from v11. FSD v12.5 will once again merge the city/highway stacks according to Musk, who confirmed the feature yesterday. That means that there will no longer be an implicit highway stack.

This could cause some regressions during highway driving, similar to the ones we experienced when Tesla first merged highway and city stacks back in FSD v11. Ultimately, when the issues were ironed out, we ended up with a smoother and better Autopilot experience on the highway. When FSD v12.5 rolls around, we may see some similar issues but expect FSD v12.5 to do to highways what v12 did for city driving.

Vehicle-to-Fleet Communications

Tesla’s FSD relies heavily upon maps, with the mapping information designating routing and lane changes. When vehicles encounter difficulties, they are unable to communicate that back to the rest of the fleet. This results in every vehicle encountering the same problem. With FSD V12.5, vehicles will be able to communicate road closures or other obstacles back to the rest of the fleet in real-time. This will turn FSD into software that’s constantly improving as the fleet gathers more data, instead of having to wait for a software update.

Cybertruck Finally Gets FSD

In a recent post on X, Musk also confirmed that V12.5 will finally bring FSD to the Cybertruck. Currently, all Cybertrucks only have access to Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC). Autopilot and FSD capabilities should arrive alongside all the other features.

Actually Smart Summon

Musk has talked quite a bit about Actually Smart Summon. With FSD 12.5, the new vision-based summon may finally be released. This will introduce Smart Summon capabilities to vision-only cars for the first time. However, it’s expected to be a drastic improvement for all vehicles in similar ways to the new Autopark. The new summon has been tied to the ability to move the vehicle in reverse by Tesla’s Autopilot lead, so expect either both of them to arrive in FSD 12.5, or be held off for a later release.

Release Date

Musk originally mentioned that FSD V12.5 would be released in late June, however, there were several delays with FSD 12.4 and that time frame has now come and gone. FSD 12.4 was initially released in May 2024, but it went through several lengthy revisions before it was introduced to public testers. Going by that time frame, it appears that FSD 12.5 was expected to be released about 4-6 weeks after FSD 12.4. If FSD 12.4.3 is finally got a good spot, we could see FSD 12.5 become available in the next 4-6 weeks or about late August.

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