Tesla to limit Autopilot activation to stop crazy stunts

Autopilot features are being implemented not just for the sake of hi-tech fanciness but for safety reasons. In theory, taking humans and their error-prone judgment out of the equation would lead to safer roads and less accidents. As if proving how poor humans are at applying common sense, some videos have surfaced on the Internet using the Tesla Model S' new Autopilot features in ways it wasn't intended to handle just yet. As a consequence, CEO Elon Musk announced that they will be putting some restrictions to the feature soon.

To be clear, Tesla isn't gimping the Autopilot features themselves. It will only modify when or how Autopilot gets activated. Some car manufacturers have specific requirements on when their semi-autonomous driving features kick in and when they get turned off, like requiring driver's hands to still be on the wheel even when on autopilot. In contrast, Tesla doesn't have that requirement.

Despite those few but highly popular YouTube videos making rounds on the Internet, Musk remains confident and proud of the new Autopilot feature that has just recently rolled out to Model S owners. He says that the 40,000 cars that have downloaded the feature are logging in millions of miles driven, though doesn't clarify if that refers to Autopilot driven mode. He boasts that there were already some evidence of Tesla's Autopilot saving drivers from accidents but no report about them causing accidents.

That said, there are a few videos also floating around depicting errors in the Autopilot system, like getting confused even on straight roads. Musk doesn't exactly deny these issues but does say that the Autopilot system is still at its infancy and that it will get better as it grows and learns from its own experience as well as other Model S cars. Fleet learning is one of the features of Tesla's Autopilot technology.

Musk hasn't revealed exactly when these changes will take place, though considering Autopilot is still in public beta, it could happen soon. Or rather, should happen soon to prevent accidents due to inappropriate use. For now, drivers should perhaps avoid activating Autopilot on twisting roads.

VIA: Ars Technica