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Say Hello To Your New Chauffeur

On 14 October 2015 Tesla Motors released its software version 7.0 which adds muscle to Tesla’s Autopilot suite offered in Model S (and recently delivered Model X). Released in beta through an over-the-air software update, Tesla’s Autopilot relies on radar, cameras, GPS and ultrasonic sensors.

With the update, Tesla’s Autopilot suite now includes the following features:

Autosteer (Beta). Automatic steering within a lane using Traffic-Aware Cruise Control.

Auto Lane Change. Automatic lane changing with a simple tap of the turn signal.

Side Collision Warning. Alerting about objects such as cars that are too close to the side.

Autopark. Alerting the driver when a parking space is available and parallel parking on command.

If you already purchased the Autopilot package (for USD 2500) when you first bought your Model S, you will get this update for free. If you did not, you may have to pay up to USD 3000 to upgrade to Autopilot now. When the software update is available, you will receive a notification on the car’s touchscreen display. You can choose to install instantly or schedule for later. Whenever you wish to install, just connect your Model S to your home’s Wi-Fi and install quick and easy! Per Elon Musk’s tweet on 23 October 2015 the Autopilot feature is being rolled out in all countries except Japan (still awaiting regulatory approvals).

Hot or Not?

What’s Hot. Tesla’s Autopilot allows the driver to set the desired top speed, while a front-bumper-mounted radar maintains the minimum cruising distance between your car and the vehicle ahead. Lane changing is quite seamless in areas with clear lane markings. In case there’s a situation that the Autopilot can’t handle, a warning is flashed prompting the driver to take control. Side Collision Warning is enabled by default. On less populated highways, the driver could easily cruise for hours with the Autopilot totally in control. A Word of Caution – Drivers should exercise caution and keep their hands on the wheel at all times, even in Autopilot mode.

What’s Not. Some of the Autopilot features, including Autosteer, may not work well in areas where the lane markers are missing or faded, or at sharp turns. Adverse weather conditions like snow and fog also impact the Autopilot performance. Autopark will alert you of a suitable parking spot only when you are travelling under 15 mph (24Kh/h). Also, Tesla’s Autopilot cannot read red lights or stop signs yet. Interesting Titbit – During a recent test drive, a Tesla Model S (in Autopilot mode) was pulled over for speeding at 75 mph in a 60 mph zone. This is because Autopilot is still not intelligent enough to automatically determine the top speed and will consider the top speed set manually by the driver.

The Bottomline:

For those looking for a fully autonomous self-driving car, Tesla’s Autopilot is not yet there. However, at Greyhound Research, we believe it is definitely a big step in the direction of autonomous driving and offers major assistance in various aspects of driving.

In a recent tweet Elon said future updates to Tesla’s Autopilot (Autopilot 1.01) will have curve speed adaption, controller smoothness, better lane holding on poor roads, improved fleet learning among others. At Greyhound Research we hope these enhancements will help address some of the current limitations, including not being able to read stop signs and red lights.

Would you want to invest in a semi-autonomous car feature like this? Leave us a line (or two) to let us know.

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About The Author: Sanchit Vir Gogia is the Chief Analyst & CEO of Greyhound Research, an independent IT & Telecom Research & Advisory firm. He also serves as Chief Futurist, Founder & CEO of Greyhound Knowledge Group that operates under four brands – Greyhound Research, Greyhound Sculpt, Greyhound Technocrat and Greyhound Vivo. To read more about him, click here.

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