In, October 2014, Tesla Motors started equipping its Model S with hardware such as a forward radar and a forward-looking camera with an eye toward self-driving. A year later, Tesla released its Tesla Version 7.0 software, retrofitting the 2014 hardware with an autopilot system. Tesla’s autopilot allows the Model S to: “to steer within a lane, change lanes with the simple tap of a turn signal, and manage speed by using active, traffic-aware cruise control. Digital control of motors, brakes, and steering helps avoid collisions from the front and sides, as well as preventing the car from wandering off the road. Your car can also scan for a parking space, alert you when one is available, and parallel park on command.”
This all sounds great. But what if something were to go wrong? Imagine you were driving your Model S. You instruct the car to change lanes, but you notice it will crash into a car in the desired lane. Fear not: by touching the brakes or yanking the steering wheel, you override the autopilot system and regain complete control of the car. Meanwhile, the car logs the incident -what happened and the driver’s subsequent response- and sends this data back to Tesla in realtime. Tesla immediately beams the data to all other Tesla autopilot cars on the road, ensuring that no Tesla car makes that same mistake again. Truly, Teslas constantly learn and improve.
This past January, Tesla updated its software with Version 7.1, which offers a range of new features. The update includes Summon, an incredible feature that completes the auto-drive experience. Using Summon, you can instruct your Model S to open the garage door and park itself; alternatively, the car can start itself and exit the garage on its own. The newest update also prevents the use of autopilot mode in residential areas, in response to online videos showing drivers using the autopilot feature in dangerous situations.