Tesla Motors will soon introduce several semi-autonomous features in its Model S sedans, including a car-passing feature that automatically allows the car to pass others without driver intervention. Activated manually by a driver, the car-passing option employs a turn signal the EV maker believes could be a solution to an issue regarding driver-less car technology, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
Turn signal could help Tesla avoid disputes
With an increase in automated features being installed in vehicles, auto regulators and insurance companies are seeking to strengthen liability rules that determine the responsible candidate in the case of a car crash or if a vehicle hits a pedestrian, says the report.
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By pushing the turn signal button, a driver ensures that the passing action is safe and, thus, could be held responsible for any mishap that might occur afterwards. Though this could be unfortunate from a driver’s perspective, having a person to initiate a turn signal feature could aid automakers such as Tesla evading regulatory disputes.
At present, cars with driver-assistance features, for instance, the one that ensures a car is within the lane lines, are legitimate, but they require drivers to be actively engaged with the vehicle. In cases when the computer manages most of the operations or if a car could drive itself, such vehicles come under the category of class-3 autonomous vehicle, for which a driver needs to acquire a special registration in several states in the U.S.
More semi-autonomous features soon
Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor and a specialist in autonomous vehicles, told The Journal, “Tesla is venturing into the mushy middle of automation,” where a human performs the driving tasks, while the computer looks after other processes.
The upcoming turn signal feature might take a while to be available in the Tesla Model S. Other semi-autonomous options will only be introduced with an over-the-air software update. Though Tesla has publicized very little information on the forthcoming autopilot features, the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, has assured consumers that the “cool features” will enhance the safety and experience of Model S drivers.