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Tesla Revises Autopilot Software

Updated February 17, 2016

In October 2015 Tesla Motors started equipping its Model S with Autopilot software that permits self-driving of the vehicle using a camera, radar, ultrasonic and GPS. The technology utilizes 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors that monitor the area around the car out to 16-feet in every direction at all speeds and also includes a high-precision digitally controlled electric assist braking system.

How Autopilot works. (Courtesy: Tesla Motors)

How Autopilot works.
(Courtesy: Tesla Motors)

The software version 7.0 was later released for consumer use on all Tesla Model S vehicles. However, some people took the capability of the technology literally and rode in a Model S while sitting in sections of the car other than the driver’s seat.

Tesla cautioned that the function is still in development and shouldn’t be relied on 100% after one guy recorded himself standing in the backseat while the car was driving itself on a freeway at speeds of more than 50 mph (83 km/h). In response the company released an enhanced new software (version 7.1) with some limits.

For example, Tesla has limited the speed the vehicle can travel while

The Tesla Model S with Autopilot software drives itself. (Courtesy: Tesla Motors)

The Tesla Model S with Autopilot software drives itself.
(Courtesy: Tesla Motors)

under the command of Autopilot to less than the posted speed limit. Moreover, the autonomous driving system can’t be used in residential areas or on roads with a center divider.

In addition, there have been a number of enhancements that kick in when the car is traveling on highways. These include automatically reducing speed when the car approaches a curve. Previously, the software maintained the speed the vehicle was traveling on the straight.

Tesla Autopilot. (Courtesy: Tesla Motors)

Tesla Autopilot.
(Courtesy: Tesla Motors)

The upgrade also includes the addition of a new function called “Summon”, a self-parking system. This utility permits the driver to leave the car and then it automatically opens the garage door, parks the car in the garage, shuts down the car, and closes the garage door. It also permits the driver to summon the vehicle and then automatically guides the car out of the garage. So far, the “Summon” feature is in Beta stage. So Tesla cautions users to run the function only at their homes.

Eventually Tesla hopes that Summon will permit a self-driving car to meet its owner anywhere in the U.S.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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