Tesla said its car owners have covered more than 100 million miles on the autonomous Autopilot feature. On Tuesday, speaking to a crowd at the EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco, Tesla’s director of Autopilot programs, Sterling Anderson, said the team is using data collected from those trips for the development, refinement and introduction of more features in the future.
Covered more distance than Google’s car
There are about 70,000 Tesla vehicles on the road with the capability of running on Autopilot, which enable them to cover a total of about 2.6 million miles in a day. In comparison, Google’s self-driving car program has driven far less at just 1.5 million miles throughout the project’s history.
In October 2014, the company first introduced Autopilot hardware in its Model S sedan, and a year later, it started rolling out its 7.0 over-the-air software update. Several new features were introduced with it, such as auto-park, traffic-aware cruise control, auto lane change and auto steer.
Tesla’s vehicles are not fully autonomous in the way Google’s self-driving cars are shaping up to be. However, the Model S is now capable of handling most common driving interactions on its own, and a highway setting allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel and foot off the pedal.
Safety first: Tesla
On the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) autonomous vehicle spectrum, Tesla’s vehicles are placed at Level 2. Level 4 is allotted to a fully autonomous vehicle that can be driven without human intervention at any point.
For this reason, Anderson stressed the limitations of Autopilot and said acquiring a license is necessary to sit behind the wheel of a Model S. Also drivers are not allowed to doze off while on the road. Anderson said they should be prepared at all times to take over.
“It [Autopilot] should be used with a driver fully engaged, fully in the loop, using their cognitive abilities as they normally would. You should say, ‘I need to stay very in tune with the set of scenarios my car doesn’t handle well, I should be very engaged,’” the executive said.
Tesla cautioned drivers on using Autopilot on a qualified Model S or Model X. Despite all this, the EV firm has gotten into trouble because of its lax safeguards, especially considering that the software rollout bypasses forthcoming regulations from the NHTSA. When the company introduced Autopilot, many Model S owners began using the software in dangerous ways. This forced the company to beef up the safety features.