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Tesla Curbs Model S Autopilot Features, Yet Elon Musk Promises Driverless Cars Going Cross-Country in 2018

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Tesla Motor CEO Elon Musk has made a bold prediction that self-driving cars will go cross-country in 2018. At the moment, though, this seems impossible as the electric vehicle maker just curbed Autopilot features on the Model S.

Tesla has just rolled out the software update version 7.1 for its Model S and Model X cars, which allowed the owners to summon the automobiles to park themselves, just like a well-trained dog. Now, Musk believes that people could soon summon their Tesla cars from anywhere in the country in 2018.

The chief executive officer has not only made the prediction via Twitter, he also announced the same statement on Sunday in a media teleconference.

"Within two years, you'll be able to summon your car from across the country," said Musk, although he added that he might be somewhat "optimistic" on the matter.

Summon Functionality

The new, nifty functionality of these two electric vehicles is deemed part of Tesla's Autopilot self-driving technology. This technology was brought in through Tesla software version 7.0 which the company started releasing back in October last year. The update allowed owners of these cars to take their hands off the steering wheel in particular conditions.

While this technology was lauded for its innovation, others, however, slammed it for having been rolled out too early.

It is worth noting, though, that the feature Summon is still in its beta stage. This feature is also not activated by default, which means you need to configure it by heading over to Controls > Settings > Driver Assistance > Autopilot.

"[Y]ou can prompt it to... open your garage door, enter your garage, park itself, and shut down. In the morning, you wake up, walk out the front door, and summon your car," says Tesla in a blog post. "It will open the garage door and come to greet you. More broadly, Summon also eliminates the burden of having to squeeze in and out of tight parking spots."

Since the functionality is still in the beta stage, Tesla underscores that owners should familiarize themselves with Summon on "private property."

Musk also says that the cars will be able to autonomously drive wherever in the country to meet its owners down the road, for instance, when "you're in LA and the car is in NY." Not only that, it will also soon have the capacity to charge itself along the way, plus it will sync with the calendar so users will know when the cars are going to arrive.

Users can communicate with the cars by means of their smartphones.

Tesla Curbs The Autopilot Functionality

The automaker also revealed on Sunday that it was updating its Autopilot features for Model S to set new limits on the vehicle's hands-free operation.

Tesla is now restricting the feature on roads without a center divider or on residential roads. This also means that the vehicle cannot drive faster than the speed limit  plus 5 miles per hour.

Musk noted, though, that Tesla has not yet received any report of accidents caused by the earlier released version of the software.

In the meantime, earlier this month, a Model S caught fire and burned down completely while supercharging at a station in Norway. No one, however, was injured in the fire.

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