After recently unveiling its Model X crossover, Tesla Motors was in the news once again when they introduced a software update for its electrified sedan, the Model S. That update added semi-autonomous driving functionalities.
Called Autopilot, the system uses radar, ultrasound sensors and cameras to offer several driving assistance features. Working in collaboration with the car’s cruise control, it can keep the car moving along in its lane, follow traffic, negotiate curves and change lanes when the driver activates the turn signal. The system can also assist the driver during parallel-parking manoeuvres and it can see through rain, snow and fog.
A “wow” effect, according to Martin-Luc Archambault
Starring in the TV show Dans l’oeil du dragon, Quebec’s French version of Dragon’s Den, Martin-Luc Archambault is a businessman who also happens to own a Tesla Model S. As soon as the update was installed in his car, he jumped in and tried it out.
He said that since the invention of the Internet, very few gadgets have amazed him as much as his Tesla and its Autopilot function. In the next few weeks, the Dragon will have more time to experiment with the system, although he did mention that it all works very well.
A scalable system
According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the system is actually in beta phase and does have certain limitations, such as when the painted lines on the road are faded or covered. He also mentions that the system will benefit from many improvements over time and will adjust itself according to data collected.
While this new system can be automatically downloaded to the car, only the owners of the newest version, the P90D can get it, and they had to pre-order it. For the rest, the update is offered for an extra $2,500 USD.
Other carmakers sell similar systems, such as the one on the new Audi Q7, and Mercedes-Benz with its STEERING ASSIST feature available on several models including the new GLE. However, Tesla points out that their system is the only one that’s connected to a network and allows all Tesla vehicles to learn from others’ driving experiences, improving the system every day.