Tesla EVs have been involved in quite a few accidents, some fatal, and in all those that involve Autopilot, the company makes the same explanation. The feature is only meant for driver assistance, not full automation. Soon, however, it might have to change its tune, and its excuses, because based on still CEO Elon Musk’s tweets about mind-blowing features being tested, that’s exactly what Autopilot might soon be.
“Autopilot” may sound like a misnomer if it’s just meant to assist drivers anyway. But at least that’s the company’s defense in cases where inattentive drivers have been the cause of the accident. They’re still supposed to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. Given the feature’s current set of capabilities, that’s definitely warranted.
That’s not to say Tesla isn’t training Autopilot to take more and more control, which could tempt drivers to get more and more inattentive as well. One such upcoming talent is an upgrade to Navigate on Autopilot. That currently requires drivers to confirm lane changes but Musk’ reveals the test version can automatically pass slow cars and change lanes. Presuming the driver waived confirmation beforehand, of course.
That’s only on the highway though, because Autopilot still isn’t suited for city roads. That’s not going to stay that way, of course. Musk, again, reveals that it’s being tested on traffic lights, stop signs, and roundabouts. Soon, he says, it’ll be able to drive you to work.
When “soon” will happen is probably anyone’s guess (except Musk’s). At interesting as the features may be, it’s not something the company can afford to rush. Especially after being in the hot seat again and again.