Tesla has launched an incremental update for its Autopilot software. The update imparts more autonomy to the vehicles when the vehicle is travelling on highways. Navigate on Autopilot is a new feature of Version 9 of Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist software and was introduced back in October 2018.
The functionality enabled cars that had Enhanced Autopilot to be able to navigate from the on-ramp of a highway to the off-ramp. However, drivers were required for authorizing the lane changes by pilling on the turn stalk. The latest update has removed the need for this authorization from the drivers.
The new update that has been introduced via an OTA software update enables the drivers to manage these prompts from the Autopilot settings menu. They can even switch these prompts off thus giving the car more autonomy between the on-ramp and off-ramp including changing of lanes. However, as a safety feature, the car will only change lanes given that the driver’s hands are on the wheel.
The drivers can, if they wish, leave the settings as they are and allow the car to change lanes on its own after they have provided the turn stalk with the confirmatory tug. They can also opt for the car to change lanes on its own but provide audible chimes or visual prompts that lead up to the actual act of changing lanes. Tesla units that have been manufactured after 2017 also offer vibration of the steering wheel as an indication that the car is changing lanes. The driver can cancel the lane change by moving the car’s turn signal or hitting cancel on the touchscreen.
This marks yet another important step forward by Tesla towards driverless cars. Tesla has always been outspoken by its intention of achieving the goal of driverless cars, and CEO Elon Musk has stated that by the end of the year, the software will be completely feature-complete. However, until the autonomous cars get a go-ahead by the regulators and until the software is ready; drivers are required to remain in control of the car at all times.