Tesla Motors introduced an over-the-air update on Wednesday night, giving a new breed of self-driving cars to American roads. The company has sold tens of thousands of all-electric Model S sedans in the U.S., and by now many of them must have downloaded or are downloading the “Autopilot” mode.
Tesla striding toward self-driving
Google’s car displays a kind of driverless magic, and now a similar maneuver will be seen with Tesla’s Autopilot mode. With little or absolutely no help from the human behind the wheel, a Tesla can steer, change lanes and drive at highway speeds with Autopilot.
Making use of its cameras and sensors, the vehicle can parallel park, and in case the driver happens to drift asleep, it can slow to a stop. Tesla’s Model S, while on the road, collects data from its cameras, sensors and radar on lane markers, the speed and location of other cars, and other relevant information.
Even before the update, the car used to automatically slow down when it sensed that the car moving ahead hit the brakes. And if the car drifted out of its lane, it would vibrate the steering wheel. Now the Autopilot mode gives better control to safely steer into curves and maintain speed. For changing lanes, the driver can hit the turn-signal bar, and the car will speed up a little and drift over.
More to come
At a press event on Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said, “It will get more and more refined over time. Eventually, we want it to automatically have your car put itself to bed in your garage.” With the next update, it will be possible for the car may to rouse itself from the parking space and pick up the driver.
There is a reason the mode has been named Autopilot. Just like airplane pilots with takeoffs and landings, drivers will be expected to handle critical driving points. As a safety measure, it is advised that humans place their hands on the wheel every few seconds, which will also meet the street laws that require a human hand on the wheel.
Tesla’s Autopilot mode marks an incredible turning point in the field of driverless technology. Advocates of the technology expect the 33,000 deaths taking place on U.S. highways every year to reduce with regular use of the technology.