Tesla cars can now drive themselves. A software update released on Thursday enables autopilot mode for the Model S and the Model X.
The update comes in Version 7.0 of its software, and autopilot mode keeps the car in its lane, enables it to change lanes, and even parallel park itself.
"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. Your car can also scan for a parking space, alert you when one is available, and parallel park on command," said Tesla in a blog post.
Of course, it's important to mention that the Model S is not completely autonomous, and even when it's in autopilot mode Tesla urges drivers to keep their hands on the wheel, in case something happens and drivers need to take over. Drivers could go against what Tesla says and take their hands off the wheel, however the company is quick to admit that the system does have its faults.
For example, the system needs pretty clear lane markers in order to stay in the correct lane, and in L.A., for example, there often aren't overly clear lane markers. Not only that, but Tesla was also quick to point out that at this point if there is an accident the driver is still liable, whether they were driving or in autopilot mode. If a user does take their hands off of the wheel, the car will sound an alert.
The software itself uses a combination of cameras, ultrasonic sensors, radar, and mapping data, which all feed into how the car handles itself and where it drives.
The approach is different from companies like Google, which are aiming for a fully autonomous driving experience, compared to Tesla which, at least for now, is offering a more "assisted driving" autonomous driving experience.