Tesla Launches Autopilot Mode

Tesla has launched its autopilot mode in North America.

The software update will allow Model S cars to change lanes, self-park, monitor traffic and pedestrians without the help of a driver.

While the vehicles will not be self-driving, it will certainly allow people to have a more hands-off approach when they are stuck in traffic, for example.

However, Tesla's chief executive Elon Musk urged caution by saying that drivers will still be responsible for the car's actions even if it is on autopilot mode.

"The driver cannot abdicate responsibility. That will come at some point in the future," he told the BBC.

At first glance, the system appears to be an impressive one. Jalopnik test drove the car in New York, taking it through traffic-heavy routes and found it to be safe and sensible in its approach to breaking speed, changing lanes and other vehicles on the road.

Tesla's autopilot mode works by combining a "forward looking camera, radar, and 360 degree sonar sensors with real time traffic updates."

It automatically turns indicator signals on and off while warning the driver if the car is approaching another parked vehicle too quickly.

The autopilot mode will also take care of those pesky parallel parks by manoeuvring into tight spots without any help from the driver.

According to Tesla, the software judges when to accelerate and decelerate while controlling the steering. Brilliant.

"Essentially it's like a person - how well can a person figure out what route they should take. Over time it will be better than a person," Musk added.

"Long term it will be way better than a person. It never gets tired, it's never had anything to drink, it's never arguing with someone in the car. It's not distracted."

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