Tesla made headlines in early October when it updated its cars overnight. Well, it turns out that tens of thousands of cars now have the capability of driving themselves (sort of).
The hype here is easy to spot — here it’s that these kinds of updates from Tesla can be pushed through to its cars at any time.
Naturally, people were excited about the possibilities of an auto-pilot mode. However, cars are still not ready to completely drive themselves, as even the updated Tesla vehicles will instruct you to put your hands back on the wheel if you remove them for more than a few seconds. Autopilot will even turn off if the wheel is completely grabbed.
Tesla gets a pass on this kind of thing, claiming that its tech is in “beta,” and not yet ready to be completely autonomous. This can also be seen as a way to keep the responsibility on the driver, and somewhat off Tesla.
On another note, an impressive feature is the auto-steer capability. It uses sensors, a front-facing radar, a camera with image recognition, and a 360 degree radar in order to “see” lines and vehicles on the road. That’s how it decides where to steer itself.
One catch is that your speed has to be over 18 miles per hour to work, and generally, highway conditions are where the feature can work its best, due to the general consistency of fast-paced roadways.
What’s really nifty is all you have to do is turn on a signal, and the car will automatically change lanes for you. When it deems conditions safe, of course.
Better yet, if the driver has his or her hands off the wheel for too long, along with beeping at you, it will slow down and stop with hazard lights on. All by itself. It’s called “auto-pilot” for a reason. The driver still needs to pay attention 100% of the time.
The main difference between Tesla and other auto manufacturers is — again — the ability to push updates over the air. Essentially, Tesla wants people to think of their cars as “always connected” like phones or other Internet capable devices.
Always connected means that feedback can lead to faster technological advances, which will, in turn, lead to better, safer cars.
The Tesla autopilot feature also does not take stop signs or traffic lights into account, but the point is, future updates will compensate for that.
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