Tesla Motors is constantly in the process of updating its Autopilot feature for the sake of seeking to improve the system in every way possible like Apple rolls out over-the-air updates for iDevices. Now, Elektrek reports Tesla just added some new safety features as preventative measures in light of recent accidents involving Autopilot.
These features are new fail-safe alerts for those who don’t listen to the car’s warning tones. Yes, while we car enthusiasts hate the constant nanny and warning tones that new cars come with, this is all to make sure that drivers are still paying attention while behind an Autopilot-capable Tesla. Driving is still driving and it requires attention.
For instance, if the driver insists on ignoring the Autopilot’s reminder to intervene with the Autosteer system, the Autosteer will disengage, a bunch of warning tones will sound off, and Autopilot will disable itself until the vehicle is stopped and put into park. This is a precautionary measure to make sure the driver is still paying attention instead of solely relying on the car to keep itself tracking properly along the road. To keep the Autosteer system from disengaging, the driver has to input steering effort to remind the car that you’re still paying attention, or at least we’d hope.
Autosteer is Autopilot’s key feature that helps keep the equipped Tesla vehicle in lane with traffic. It’s the arm of Autopilot that primarily controls the semi-autonomous steering when you decide not to do it yourself. When it’s engaged, Autopilot will remind the drivers to replace their hands back on the steering wheel. If the driver fails to comply within 15 seconds, the warning shut-down presafe will engage and commence a shutdown of Autosteer.
Autopilot’s other key feature, Tesla’s Traffic Aware Cruise Control, which is basically radar-guided cruise control and is in no way a new form of tech, is still accessible if Autosteer is disabled.
Tesla didn’t officially admit it, but these features are believed to be in response to the recent accidents involving Tesla vehicles and potentially, Autopilot. The last crash involved a Model X on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. From the data Tesla was able to pull from the vehicle for analysis, researches claim the victim’s Model X had commenced its similar procedure for Autopilot shutdown eleven seconds before impact. This implied the driver in the latest incident ignored the alerts and prompts to put its hands back on the wheel.
Other updates to the Tesla software also feature now enable Autopilot-equipped cars to enter and exit highways by navigating on- and off-ramps on its own.
– By: Chris Chin