Tesla, makers of the world’s most popular fully electric car, has released the first update that allows Model S owners to activate the autopilot self-driving function.
Preparations began in October 2014, when the company began installing hardware in Model-S units, including “a forward radar, a forward-looking camera, 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction at all speeds, and a high-precision digitally-controlled electric assist braking system.” As the autopilot is only available in cars sold after October, 2014, this means that approximately 43,000 Model S cars on the road right now will have self-drive capabilities.
With the 7.0 update, the Model S autopilot will manage speed, allow for lane changes through a tap of the turn signal, digitally control motors, brakes, and steering to avoid collisions, even scan for the surrounding area for a parking space, alert you when one is available, and parallel park.
“Tesla Autopilot relieves drivers of the most tedious and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel,” Tesla said in a release. “We’re building Autopilot to give you more confidence behind the wheel, increase your safety on the road, and make highway driving more enjoyable. While truly driverless cars are still a few years away, Tesla Autopilot functions like the systems that airplane pilots use when conditions are clear. The driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car. What’s more, you always have intuitive access to the information your car is using to inform its actions.”