Tesla launches autopilot Model S update
15 October 2015
Author: Daniel Puddicombe
Tesla has launched an update to its Model S electric car software in America, which features its long-awaited Autopilot driver aid feature.
A Tesla spokeswoman confirmed to BusinessCar that the software update would be rolled out in the UK. "We're working with the regulatory bodies to approve it," she said, adding that because the firm is waiting on a third-party, Tesla couldn't estimate when European models would be updated.
Features included in the update are an auto-steering device, which allows the car to stay in the same lane while engaging what Tesla calls "Traffic Aware Cruise Control" to maintain the car's speed in the lane. The function requires the driver to keep their hands on the steering wheel.
The update also includes a side collision warning system that senses the car's proximity to objects, including cars, that are too close to the side of the vehicle.
Tesla also said the Model S is able to parallel park itself once the software update has been rolled out. When the vehicle detects a parking spot, a "P" icon appears on the car's instrument panel. It operates when travelling at low speeds around.
"The latest software update, allows the Model S to use its combination of cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors and data to automatically steer down the highway, change lanes, and adjust speed in response to traffic," the firm said in a blog post.
"Today's update increases the driver's confidence behind the wheel with features to help the car avoid hazards and reduce the driver's workload. While the Model S can't make traffic disappear, it can make it a lot easier, safer, and more pleasant to endure," Tesla added.
Tesla's chief executive, Elon Musk, said the autopilot mode was designed to increase driver confidence on the road, but warned drivers to be careful when using it.
"It should not hit pedestrians, hopefully. It should handle them well," he said, adding that if the car was involved in an accident, the driver would still be liable.
"The driver cannot abdicate responsibility. That will come at some point in the future."
Musk said the software would improve over time, suggesting that it would "be better than a person."
"If there's heavy snow it's going to be harder for the system to work, so we'd advise caution," he said." Essentially it's like a person - how well can a person figure out what route they should take."
Musk added: "Long term it will be way better than a person. It never gets tired, it's never had anything to drink, it's never arguing with someone in the car. It's not distracted."