Tesla’s Model S luxury electric sedans produced since the autumn of 2014 will receive today a software update that will let them control steering and even park themselves, though all these feats will be achieved under certain conditions.
The automaker might be introducing the most advanced software designed to bring semi-autonomous features to date, but chief executive and billionaire co-founder Elon Musk has been keen to caution the drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel. The new “Autopilot” feature, which can be used by cars manufactured after September 2014, will become available through an over-the-air upgrade to customers in the United States on Thursday – with European and Asian owners only having to wait another week for the software patch. “We’re being especially cautious at this stage so we’re advising drivers to keep their hands on the wheel just in case,” Musk commented in front of media representatives at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters. “Over time there will not be a need to have your hands on the wheel.”
The automaker also provided test drive cars for the journalists and the Model S luxury electric sedans started cautioning them with a notice saying “hold steering wheel” every time they let go of it. Under difficult navigation conditions, Tesla said, an audio alert would also be initiated and if that is also ignored, the car would move to slow and stop. “We’re very clearly saying this is not a case of abdicating responsibility,” Musk pointed out about driver involvement. “That will come at some point in the future but … this is still early days.” Musk added that in the span of around three years, you could have the car drive “from your driveway to work without you touching anything,” though regulatory approval will probably postpone them some more years.