We all know that self-driving cars will one day be all we find on the roads. The advancements in computer systems, sensors, and cameras have made the once futuristic idea become a reality. Thanks to the world’s most advanced automobile manufacturer, when it comes to implementing modern-day technology, the first publicly available self-driving cars will hit the road today.
That’s right! Tesla’s Model S sedan is now capable of receiving an “over-the-air” update similar to how Apple pushes out updates for their latest version of iOS. However, this is no boring Apple update though. This update turns the Tesla Model S (versions built after September of 2014) into self-driving vehicles.
Has the future finally arrived? Not quite, as Tesla is keeping the technology to a minimum while they make sure their software, hardware, and everything in between works 100% effectively. The self-driving feature released today is called “autopilot” and it is limited in what it can do.
“We’re being especially cautious at this stage so we’re advising drivers to keep their hands on the wheel just in case,” Tesla CEO, Elon Musk explained. “Over time there will not be a need to have your hands on the wheel.”
When drivers remove their hands from the wheel, the car tells them to put them back on for precautionary reasons. The Model S vehicles are able to drive and maneuver on simple highway roads, but are still unable to recognize stop signs and traffic lights, nor able to navigate sharp turns or off-road conditions. However, this won’t be the case forever.
Musk hopes to have a fully self-driving car ready for virtually all road conditions, and able to recognize all street signs and signals within the next few years. However, it will probably be longer than that before they are approved for public transportation. The way their advanced system works is it allows for each individual driving a Model S with a subscription to their upgradable software service to download and install all of the latest, approved updates. These vehicles then send feedback back to Tesla, helping them advance the system further.
If one vehicle learns something new, in essence the entire line of Tesla cars learn that same thing.
“People should see the car actually improve probably with each passing week,” Musk told NPR. “So even without a new software update, because the data is continually improving.”
What do you think? Do you feel safe knowing these cars are on the road? Provide your opinions in the comments section below.