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Tesla helps Hurricane Irma evacuees with a temporary software update

It’s not often that a software update could genuinely save lives, but Teslamay just have accomplished that. The electric car company has unlocked the full power of its electric cars in the Florida region, to help Tesla drivers evacuate the region in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The update temporarily unlocked the full potential of the 75kW Model S and Model X SUVs, giving them another 30 to 40 miles on a single charge, according to Electrek.

On Sunday, a Tesla spokesperson confirmed that the update had indeed been rolled out to those in affected areas.

Interestingly, the idea for the update didn’t come from Tesla. Instead, the update was rolled out after a Tesla owner in Florida spoke to the company asking if they were able to remotely upgrade his car’s potential so he could safely exit the evacuation zone. His plea led to Tesla unlocking the car’s full potential for all owners in Florida. The update will stay in place until 16 September, at which point Tesla will revert its cars back to their previous state.

Tesla notified all affected owners via an in-car message, saying “Due to these exceptional circumstances, and to help you better prepare to evacuate and get to safety, your vehicle has been adjusted at no cost to you to temporarily access the additional battery capacity until September 16th. You will notice the badging on the instrument cluster will read 75 during this period. We hope that this allows you to travel to your next destination with confidence and ease.”

Another benefit of picking up a Tesla over a standard car for the evacuation was the lack of a queue at Tesla’s Supercharger stations compared to long lines at petrol stations. Working in a similar manner to a standard petrol station, the Supercharger stations can quickly charge a Tesla battery in not much more time than a petrol pump.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has improved its cars via an update. Earlier this year the company made improvements to its Autopilot capabilities, and such a process shows the potential benefits of a future full of electric cars. Despite there being an upper limit being due to hardware constraints, Tesla’s approach shows that a car’s power efficiency could be improved simply by over-the-air updates.

Obviously, this also shows that someone could potentially do more nefarious things to these cars via hacking OTA update channels, but we’ve already got problems with people hacking cars. Hopefully, security issues around automobiles will be resolved by the time everyone has access to one.