Tesla has revamped its driverless technology for its Model S and X cars via an over the air (OTA) software update this month. It offers self-parking (known as “Summon”), a new feature of its autopilot system, wherein it allows the driver to alight at a driveway and let the car enter and exit the parking space by itself (with no human driver inside the car) up to a distance of 39 feet. Tesla also introduced “HomeLink,” which allows the car to remotely open your garage door, park itself, and close the garage door, and vice versa. Initially, Summon is available on private properties and on flat road surfaces only.
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Tesla Launches its "Summon" Feature: The Next Step to a Fully Driverless Car
Tesla has revamped its driverless technology for its Model S and X cars via an over-the-air (OTA) software update this month. It offers self-parking (known as “Summon”), a new feature of its autopilot system, wherein it allows the driver to alight at a driveway and let the car enter and exit the parking space by itself (with no human driver inside the car) up to a distance of 39 feet. Tesla also introduced “HomeLink,” which allows the car to remotely open your garage door, park itself, and close the garage door, and vice versa. Initially, Summon is available on private properties and on flat road surfaces only.
Overall, Tesla Motors has boosted the autonomy of its existing vehicles. First, Tesla enabled the autopilot system (designed for highway use) which allows the car to maintain a safe distance from nearby vehicles with the Traffic-aware Cruise Control (TACC), and keeps the vehicle within the same lane, thanks to automatic steering and sensors which can detect even faded lane markings. This has now been supplemented with self-parking and summoning features. These improvements were driven by Tesla’s commitment to delivering a fully autonomous car in the future, with an emphasis on road safety and convenience.
The Software update is available to Model S sedans and Model X SUVs, but only to those that have paid $ 2,500 for the full autopilot system. However, Model S sedans made before 2014 cannot enable these new features because they do not have the required sensors.
Tesla Expects to Launch a Fully Autonomous Car in 2018-1019
According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, its fully autonomous car will be available in 2018 - 2019, wherein you can summon a Tesla car and it will drive you to your destination with greater geographical coverage (e.g., from Los Angeles to New York, and not merely restricted to 39 feet) by itself, which means no human driver is required for driving tasks.
Autonomous cars will revolutionize the current usage and purpose of vehicles. They offer the following benefits:
Convenience among drivers. The driving journey would become less stressful because drivers could reach their destinations relaxed, especially those who are stressed from work, and because drivers could multi-task, doing things like eating, checking their email, etc., while on the road.
Greater mobility among elderly and impaired persons. Autonomous cars would encourage people aged 65 years old and above, and people with physical disabilities, to remain active in the community because they could travel to and from different places (e.g., shopping malls, hospitals, work, and activities organized by their community organizations, such as exercise, workshops, etc.) rather than being home-bound.
Reduced road accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 32,675 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes and 2.3 million were injured in crashes in the United States in 2014 caused by alcohol-impaired driving, speeding, and distraction (e.g., using a mobile phone while driving). With autonomous vehicles, these disruptive drivers’ behavior could be prevented, and in turn, could reduce the incidence of road accidents.
A more detailed discussion on the advantages and benefits far beyond merely increasing safety and forecast can be found on ABI Research analysis Autonomous Vehicles (AN-1486).
Driverless Car Technology Faces Regulatory and Infrastructure Constraints
Tesla’s competitors BMW, Volvo, and Google also expect to launch their fully autonomous vehicles around 2020. However, autonomous car regulation has yet to be finalized, and important questions remain unanswered: Who will take responsibility for accidents if the car is on fully autonomous mode? Will you penalize the manufacturer or the driver? Will the government allow a fully autonomous car to drive on public roads or will it require a licensed driver to be present inside the car and capable of taking control in the event of an autopilot failure? Until regulations are in place, commercial availability of a fully autonomous vehicle will be delayed. In addition, should governments allocate dedicated road infrastructure (e.g., an autonomous car lane) for fully autonomous vehicles, then the benefits of using this sophisticated technology could be maximized (e.g., efficient usage of road network).