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Brief Published: 10 Nov 2014

Self-Driving Tesla

Tesla Model S Autopilot

US-based electric car manufacturer Tesla has introduced an autopilot mode that will be built into all its future Model S cars. Initially, the technology will assist drivers to prevent human error and unnecessary risk-taking, but in the future, it could allow for entirely self-driving vehicles.

Using the technology, the car is able to stay within the chosen lane, manage speed and change lanes when the driver indicates. It uses a radar to detect and prevent possible collisions, while a camera can distinguish between different types of street furniture and identify pedestrians or cyclists. Twelve sensors around the vehicle detect hazards and react by activating the braking system or alerting the driver through tactile feedback in the steering wheel.

The fully autonomous mode allows the car to be summoned by the driver via their smartphone or even by syncing with a pre-programmed calendar, allowing it to meet the driver at a specified time and place. Due to current law restrictions, this particular mode is unable to be used on public roads. However, it can be used on private property to perform some functions, including self-parking.

As highlighted in Autonomous Autos, new technologies for self-driving vehicles are continuing to evolve, promising safer driving experiences either through driver-assist settings like the Tesla, or fully autonomous vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz 2025 Future Truck.

For more on the future of driving, see Connected Cars 2014 and RCA Vehicle Design.