Tesla had announced its autopilot during the unveiling of its dual-motor all-wheel drive sedan Model S. “We’ve been able to accelerate autopilot and bring it to market faster than originally anticipated,” said Elon Musk to a gathering at its facility in Southern California. “It’s actually in production. In fact, every car coming off the line at Tesla at the factory has the autopilot hardware.“
The autopilot that is installed in the new Tesla cars is a “bundle of hardware and software” that allows the car to take control when running on highways, park by itself in the garage and even intervene when it senses that you are on a collision course. This is an advanced autonomous driving system but if you think the autopilot will drive the car around while you sleep comfortably at the wheel or when there is no driver at all, think again.
All the new Model S vehicles that roll off the assembly line will have a sensor package containing radar, ultrasonic sensors and forward-facing cameras which are new to Tesla, but other automakers have already been offering them. For instance, the Lexus HS250h of 2010 could drive by itself on highways by controlling the steering, acceleration and brake, through dynamic cruise control and lane-keep assist systems.
This was achieved by using a combination of cameras and radar just like the Tesla, but Tesla’s is more sophisticated as the technology has advanced considerably since then. Steer Assist present in Mercedes 2014 S Class is somewhat similar. Some BMWs are capable of reading speed limit signs like the Tesla Model S. Audi has demonstrated car parking by itself and picking you up unattended. However, full autonomy in cars will still take a few years. Tesla is also promising to make its system more advanced over a period of time.
Google has logged thousands of miles for its driverless car but it still hasn’t solved the problem of heavy rain and snow although it has a wider range of sensors than what Tesla is using. Making a car that can transport you safely by itself is a pretty challenging task but hopefully in the next few years, there will have been much more progress on this front.
Via The Verge