From today, Tesla Model S saloon cars in the US will be able to drive and park themselves. The autonomous vehicle capability will arrive in Europe and Asia within weeks.
Tesla has announced the release of version 7.0 of its Model S software, starting in the US on a rolling basis and arriving in Europe and Asia in the coming weeks, pending regulatory approval.
Unlike Google Car, the software doesn’t turn the Model S into a completely autonomous vehicle. Rather, it has a beta feature called Autosteer that keeps the car in its current lane and manages the speed and distance from the car ahead.
Drivers are still encouraged to keep their hands on the wheel – a key factor in insurance liability cases in a world where the laws and rules of the road have yet to catch up on the idea of autonomous vehicles.
Model S can now detect available parking spaces and park itself
As well as Autosteer, Tesla has redesigned the Model S’s instrument cluster with a new driver-focused design that shows real-time information that the car uses to intelligently determine the vehicle’s behaviour relative to its surroundings.
Autosteer keeps the car in its current lane and engages Traffic-Aware Cruise Control to maintain the car’s speed. It assists the driver by measuring steering angle, steering rate and speed to determine the appropriate operation.
Despite this, “Tesla requires drivers to remain engaged and aware when Autosteer is enabled. Drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel.”
It added: “Changing lanes when Autosteer is engaged is simple: engage the turn signal and Model S will move itself to the adjacent lane when it’s safe to do so.”
Another feature is Side Collision Warning, which alerts drivers when the car’s sensors detect an object close to its side.
Model S can also parallel park itself and when driving at low speeds around cities a “P” symbol will appear on the vehicle’s instrument panel when it detects a parking spot that it can handle.
Tesla Model S image via Shutterstock