Tesla to update Autopilot to improve safety

Elon Musk

The update will make sure that the driver holds the steering wheel by issuing repeated warnings; if the warnings are ignored, the auto will force the driver to park the vehicle before re-engaging the autonomous functions, the BBC explains.

Musk reminded everyone that “perfect safety is an impossible goal”, and that their work focuses on improving the “probability of safety”.

In a conference call, Musk said that he believes the coming upgrades to the Autopilot system could have prevented the accident that claimed the life of Brown.

Tesla will update its cars’ Autopilot function with new safety features created to prevent collisions, the company has announced.

In a follow-up call with journalists, Tesla’s founder Elon Musk explained that the new radar system will be capable of detecting anything “that’s large and dense” causing the vehicle to brake.

The shift to relying more on radar technology rather than camera technology is to help the vehicle see things that can be hard for cameras to detect in bright sunlight or bad weather such as foggy conditions.

The improved system will be available within a week or two through an “over-the-air” software update. “Even if you’re driving down the road and the visibility is very low and there’s a multi-car pile up, the camera can’t see it, but the radar would and apply the brakes”, Elon Musk says. The radar will detect anything large, metallic or dense and force the vehicle to brake, regardless of whether the auto is in Autopilot mode or not. Also, if the driver ignores a repeated warning to keep his hands on the steering wheel, the Autopilot function will shut down and the driver will have to park and restart it.

The improvements to Autopilot come in the wake of a number of high-profile accidents allegedly involving the Autopilot self-driving system but Tesla CEO Elon Musk is keen to emphasise that this is not a case of issues with Autopilot technology being fixed. Autopilot will now use radar and camera sensors together to determine braking events, rather than sensors supplemented by radar information.

The Tesla Version 8.0 software is not to be confused with the rumored Autopilot 2.0 feature we reported on last month. The object detection abilities will be “superhuman”, Musk said. In Teslas moving faster than 45 miles per hour on Autopilot, drivers will be reminded after one minute if they are not driving behind another vehicle, or three minutes if there is another auto ahead.

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