Tesla has announced plans to update its Autopilot function to include new features to prevent collisions. Tesla CEO Elon Musk told reporters on Sunday that in order to detect obstacles ahead, the cars will put their on-board radar systems to greater use, reports the BBC.
Tesla makes Autopilot safer
Tesla’s self-driving mode has led to several accidents due to driver negligence; hence, the car will do more to make sure that drivers are paying attention while running in self-driving mode. The update will make sure that the driver holds the steering wheel by issuing repeated warnings; if the warnings are ignored, the car will force the driver to park the vehicle before re-engaging the autonomous functions, the BBC explains.
Musk said that the updates will enhance the car’s ability and will make greater use of radar to spot potential dangers.
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In a blog post, Musk said, “After careful consideration, we now believe it can be used as a primary control sensor without requiring the camera to confirm visual image recognition.”
Musk hoped that people critical of Tesla’s introduction of self-driving technology will like the update. A couple of months ago, a consumer rights group in the U.S. accused the EV maker of aggressively rolling out self-driving technology. The organization believed that the technology’s name misled drivers and hence, it should be renamed.
When activated, Autopilot mode takes control of the car so that it can keep pace with traffic and even change lanes. Currently, U.S. road safety regulators are investigating the software, which now has 200-plus additions, notes the BBC.
Update could have prevented the death
In May, a Tesla car hit a semi that had been turning left, and the Autopilot system failed to spot the white trailer against the bright sky, resulting in the death of the driver. Musk said it was “very likely” that the updated Autopilot software would have saved Brown, but he cautioned that the update “doesn’t mean perfect safety.”
Musk said the company had its focus on improving the probability of safety as trying to achieve perfect safety is an impossible goal. He said that some fatalities and injuries will always occur and can’t be negated altogether. Musk believes the problem will be greatly solved by using radar and fleet learning instead of relying primarily on cameras.
“Anything metallic or dense, the radar system we’re confident will be able to detect that and initiate a braking event,” Musk said.