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Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Counters Autopilot Technology Blame With New Safety Restrictions For Drivers


In light of recent reports blaming the Autopilot technology for a number of vehicular accidents, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is expected to respond to the negative publicity by declaring new safety restrictions with its upcoming software update.

While it remains uncertain when the car maker will release the software version 8.0, Elon Musk, Tesla Motors CEO, has recently noted that the software is now up for a final review.

Using Autopilot

Tesla Motors updated its Autopilot technology to start sending a “Hold Steering Wheel” alert. The alarm will only go off once a pressure has been applied to the steering wheel. A quick response within 15 seconds will enable the Auto Steer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) functions to stay active. Otherwise, the Autosteer feature will commence a “graceful abort procedure,” slowing the vehicle and mandating the driver to place his or her hands on the steering wheel.

Musk has long been intent on reminding drivers how the system actually works and what their roles are once it is activated. Last month, he revealed that the company will soon publish a blog post that will further discuss these aspects to prevent Autopilot-related accidents from recurring. This objective comprises just a part of the company’s efforts to continuously educate drivers until they are knowledgeable and able to properly use Autopilot.

Reviewing Past Accidents

Despite these clear indications and reminders, some drivers still fail to comply with the correct usage of Autopilot. Upon review of the recent Autopilot-related accidents, Tesla’s evaluation has revealed some of the drivers are ultimately responsible for these collisions, rather than the car maker’s technology. For example, the Tesla Motor X involved in an accident in Pennsylvania already initiated the abort procedure 11 seconds prior to the crash. The same kind of driver ignorance led to the Tesla Model X crash in Montana.

New Safety Restrictions

While drivers might not like the idea of new safety restrictions coming their way, they will have no reason to worry if they are using the Autpilot feature as it was designed. The updated version is anticipated to block drivers from reactivating the Autosteer feature once it has been disengaged automatically. The feature will only be eligible for reactivation once the vehicle is in Park mode. Consequently, drivers will further be encouraged to stop ignoring the visual and audible safety alerts.

Moreover, reports indicate that Tesla Motors is giving the whole software a massive overhaul, especially in terms of performance. Accordingly, Autopilot will soon be capable of facilitating ramp-to-ramp highway driving with excellent driver monitoring. Overall, the upcoming software update can be considered the most significant user interface (UI) revamp since the Tesla Model S launch.

However, before even rolling out the software update, Tesla Motors has increased the price of its Autopilot package to $3,000, and that is if a driver purchases it at the same time with a vehicle. Those who choose the Autopilot package following a car purchase will be charged with an additional $500.

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