Tesla Makes Autopilot Features Live For Select Beta Testers

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Tesla Motors’ next big project is to develop autonomous electric vehicles, and the next step toward that has just gone live. The EV firm has released new autopilot software update to a selected number of Model S sedans with two key features — highway auto-steer and parallel auto-park — says a report from Autoblog.

New abilities for Tesla cars

The updates won’t make the car capable of driving on its own, but some of the controls have been shifted to software from the driver. The new autopilot software from Tesla makes sure the car keeps within its lane, and a certain minimum distance from the vehicle in the front is maintained. For this, the software use brakes and the accelerator when needed. The name given to some of this ability is Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC), and it was sent out for the first time in January. The current version is Autopilot 7.0.

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Since the autopilot feature works only on highways for now, it is tagged as “highway auto-steer.” The reason is on highways there are set limits and a lot of visible road markings and signs, unlike residential roads. Hence, the cameras and sensors can easily make use of them to control the car.

Though the firm has launched auto-steer functionality, it comes late based on Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s March promise. The primary reason for the delay is the road markings on corners, which are less visible when the light or contrast is low. But now, with Tesla pushing out the update to testers, it seems the firm has managed to address the problem successfully. However, the truth will only be known when the testers share their experiences.

Still far from fully autonomous cars

Tesla has been saying clearly that it is not yet ready to allow cars to make all the driving-related decisions, and many of its features still need human assistance. For example, the auto-passing function is only triggered when the driver manually turns on the turn signal. Musk said the technology continues to evolve, and more features will be offered going forward.