Tesla is an increasingly popular make of electric cars. It takes its name from famous inventor Nikola Tesla. The brand name has become synonymous with cutting edge technology.
Tesla wants people to choose an electric car not just because it’s good for the environment. But because it is a better car than what the competition has got.
This Sunday Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed improvements that he called dramatic to the Autopilot technology used by Tesla cars. Autopilot is going to rely mainly on radar in the future. Surpassing the current technology of cameras.
Controversy Surrounding Tesla’s Autopilot
Autopilot technology helps the car “see” and can avoid collisions. That is what the technology is supposed to do.
But controversy has been surrounding Tesla’s Autopilot technology.
Sadly, there have been several crashes when the car was using the Autopilot function. There has even been a fatal incident in Florida this May. Apparently, a Tesla Model S that was driving in Autopilot mode entered in a full frontal collision with a white truck. It looked like the failure was due to the Autopilot not being able to distinguish between the truck and the bright sky.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into the crash in Florida. The crash in which Joshua Brown lost his life.
There is criticism that Tesla rolled out Autopilot too soon. That they released it in beta trials before the technology had been sufficiently well tested.
Elon Musk said that he believes that the improvements to Autopilot will make Tesla cars the safest on public roads. And that the new, improved Autopilot would have avoided the crash in Florida. He issued a word of warning though. That the Autopilot 8.0 “does not mean perfect safety”. He added that perfect safety is an impossible goal when it comes to cars.
The New Autopilot
One the upgrades to Autopilot is “Autosteer”. A feature that will make drivers pay attention to the road. The car is going to issue repeated warnings to drivers to keep their hands at all times on the steering wheel. If the driver repeatedly ignores those messages, he or she has to park the car. In order to restart the self-driving program.
On Sunday, Elon Musk said that Tesla has shared the changes to the technology with NHTSA officials. He said that the reaction to the changes had been a positive one. And added that the NHTSA officials seemed to be pleased with the changes.
Karl Brauer is a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. He said that the changes are probably going to reduce somewhat the problems that drivers have experienced with Autopilot.And he added that the enhancements bring Autopilot closer to how people expect it to work.
Autopilot includes several technologies. Machine steering and collision avoidance are two of them. Assisted lane changing is another. Autopilot also features adaptive cruise control.
On a highway with very clear markings it is very easy for the car to practically drive itself. The driver is still supposed to remain alert and to take over when it is necessary.
The changes will be delivered by way of a software upgrade. It won’t even require owners of Tesla cars to bring them into a shop.
Image source: here.