But Tesla won’t say what that full self-driving functionality actually is
Elon Musk has taken to Twitter promising some ‘full self-driving features’ will be rolled out as part of an August update for Tesla’s Autopilot driver assist system.
At the moment, Autopilot is limited to Level 2 automation. Although stories about Tesla ‘drivers’ sleeping and sitting in the passenger seat – and, unfortunately, crashing while reliant on the system – abound, Autopilot is only meant to operate under constant driver supervision.
“To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety,” Elon Musk tweeted. “With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features.”
Exactly which self-driving features will be rolled out in the update remain to be seen, but speaking with Tesla, the brand suggest the aforementioned features won’t turn Level 2 autonomous vehicles into fully self-driving, Level 5 cars overnight.
Instead, they’re part of a wider, gradual rollout of more advanced functionality to Autopilot-enabled cars.
The company wouldn’t elaborate on exactly what the features are, by the way, but we’d suggest they’ll take better advantage of the Enhanced Autopilot suite listed on the Tesla website.
Rather than the standard single camera, cars with the Enhanced Autopilot box ticked use four cameras for greater better all-round vision and accuracy.
According to the website, Enhanced Autopilot is also better at recognising fast-approaching cars from adjacent lanes. This is in keeping with the functionality promised by Elon Musk on Twitter.
The tweet that alerted the world to Tesla’s impending update was a response to an owner complaining about Autopilot’s merging performance in traffic.
It’s worth bearing in mind, the official Tesla website still says “Enhanced Autopilot should still be considered a driver’s assistance feature with the driver responsible for remaining in control of the car at all times”.
Beyond the Enhanced Autopilot suite, Tesla also offers Full Self-Driving Capability as an option on its cars. With eight active cameras, the system is designed to eventually support full self-driving in almost all circumstances.
The company promises to take passengers – not drivers, in this case – to their destination of choice without any human input.
It also promises cars will automatically park themselves, having dropped the driver at their destination, and return to pick them up when summoned from a smartphone app.
All of this functionality is “dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary widely by jurisdiction”. With that in mind, there’s no telling whether the promised August update will see some of this functionality rolled out.
Tesla declined to confirm which features will be offered in the upcoming update, nor when the promised full self-driving functionality will be available.
Autopilot has been in the news of late, after a spate of high-profile crashes involving drivers using the semi-autonomous driver aid. One Model X owner was killed when his car smashed into a barrier in Mountain View, California, while another suffered a broken ankle when her Model S slammed into a stationary firetruck at around 100km/h.
In the UK, a driver lost his license for 18 months after being filmed sitting in the passenger seat at around 65km/h, letting Autopilot do the driving.
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