Beginning in October 2014, Tesla began equipping Model S vehicles with hardware to support the incremental introduction of self-driving technology: a forward radar; a forward-looking camera; 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction at all speeds; and a high-precision digitally-controlled electric assist braking system. (Earlier post.)
The company’s latest software release—Tesla Version 7.0—enables a range of new active safety and convenience features based on that hardware, designed to work in conjunction with the automated driving capabilities already offered in Model S: Lane Departure Warning; Blind Spot Warning; Intelligent Speed Assist; Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC); Forward Collision Warning; and Automatic Emergency Braking.
This combined suite of features represents a fully integrated autopilot system involving four different feedback modules: camera, radar, ultrasonics, and GPS.
These mutually reinforcing systems offer realtime data feedback from the Tesla fleet, ensuring that the system is continually learning and improving upon itself.
Autopilot allows Model S to steer within a lane (Autosteer); change lanes with the simple tap of a turn signal (Auto Lane Change); and manage speed by using active, traffic-aware cruise control. Digital control of motors, brakes, and steering helps avoid collisions from the front and sides, as well as preventing the car from wandering off the road. The car can also scan for a parking space, alert the driver when one is available, and parallel park on command (Autopark).
While truly driverless cars are still a few years away, Tesla notes, its Autopilot functions like the systems that airplane pilots use when conditions are clear. The driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car.
The v7.0 release also features the most significant visual refresh yet of the digital displays for every single Model S around the world, Tesla said. Along with the new Autopilot features, the instrument cluster’s new driver-focused design shows the real-time information the car uses to intelligently determine the vehicle’s behavior in that moment relative to its surroundings.
Autosteer (Beta). Autosteer keeps the car in the current lane and engages Traffic-Aware Cruise Control to maintain the car’s speed. Using a variety of measures including steering angle, steering rate and speed to determine the appropriate operation AutoSteer assists the driver on the road, making the driving experience easier.
Tesla requires drivers to remain engaged and aware when Autosteer is enabled. Drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel.
|Automatic Emergency Steering and Side Collision Warning. Click to enlarge.|
Automatic Emergency Steering and Side Collision Warning. Side Collision Warning further enhances Model S’ active safety capabilities by sensing range and alerting drivers to objects, such as cars, that are too close to the side of Model S. When the car detects an object close to its side, fluid lines will radiate from the Model S image in the Instrument Panel to alert the driver.
Autopark. Model S can now parallel park itself, eliminating the need for drivers to worry about complex and difficult parking maneuvers. When driving at low speeds around cities, a “P” will appear on the Instrument Panel when the Tesla detects a parking spot. The Autopark guide will appear on the touchscreen along with the rear camera display, and, once activated, Autopark will begin to park itself by controlling steering and vehicle speed.