Tesla's latest Autopilot update lets the car change lanes on its own
Tesla has rolled out another incremental update for its Autopilot software, upping the level of autonomy for its vehicles when roaming the highways.
Navigate on Autopilot is a relatively new feature of Version 9 of Tesla's Autopilot driver-assist software, introduced in October last year. The functionality basically allows cars with Enhanced Autopilot to navigate from the on-ramp of a highway to the off-ramp, though drivers were required to authorize lane changes by pulling on the turn stalk. No longer.
The update being introduced today via an over-the-air software update allows drivers to switch off these prompts in the Autopilot settings menu. Here, they can configure the car to take the reins entirely from on-ramp to off-ramp, lane changes included. The car will only change lanes provided the driver's hands are on the wheel, however.
Of course, if drivers prefer, they can leave the settings in place and only have the car change lanes on its own after they've given the turn stalk an authoritative tug.
They can also opt to have the car change lanes on its own but provide audible chimes or visual prompts leading up to it. Teslas made after August 2017 can also have the steering wheel vibrate. If they want the lane change canceled, then they can move the car's turn signal or hitt cancel on the touchscreen.
This is another interesting step forward for Tesla, which has made no secrets of its lofty ambitions regarding driverless cars. CEO Elon Musk said during the launch of the Tesla Model Y last month that the software should be fully feature complete by the end of the year. Until then, and until autonomous cars are given the all clear by regulators, the company stresses that drivers must remain in control of their car at all times.