Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is looking forward to integrating hands-free highway driving in its Model S electric sedans by 2015. If installed next year, this new feature will put the company substantially ahead of rival electric car makers, says a report from The Wall Street Journal. which cites sources familiar with the company’s plans.

Tesla Tries To Beat Rivals With Autopilot Feature

Tesla ahead of rivals

Tesla rivals such as General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) and Volkswagen’s Audi have already announced their plans to launch hands-free highway driving systems by approximately 2016. Daimler AG’s Mercedes Benz sells a system that can pilot a car on the freeway, but even then the drivers need to keep their hands on the wheel.

Other car makers competing in the same sector have been reluctant to include such features and the over-the-air software upgrade approach that’s common in cellphones and other digital services.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a note on Friday, “Tesla is able to bring forth enhancements in product through over-the-air updates that would take other auto companies years to commercialize.”

Many new features for Model S owners

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) meanwhile is preparing to launch a semi-autonomous driving system it has dubbed Autopilot, along with several other safety and driver assistance capabilities. Such features are enough to give a jolt to rivals, according to the analysts. CEO Elon Musk outlined some of the company’s plans in suburban Los Angeles on Thursday night but did not reveal the timing.

Musk unveiled the automated driving system for improving visibility, safeguarding against accidents, and allowing vehicles to park themselves. In the new Tesla Model S sedan, the company will integrate features like radar, cameras, and other equipment for hands-free highway driving, an automated parking system, and other driver assistance and safety features. Owners who want some of the convenience features, such as hands-free highway driving, must buy the optional technology package, according to information on the company’s website.

Mercedes-Benz’s S Class and E Class models were the first to provide a feature that keeps the car centered and navigates freeway curves along with maintaining a pre-defined set speed of up to 124 miles an hour. The feature uses stereo cameras that work as eyes, radar, and ultrasonic sensors to provide information on the car’s surroundings. However, despite the feature, a driver still needs to keep a hand on the wheel.