Tesla rolls out update to driver-assist software


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In an effort to improve the safety of its cars, Tesla is rolling out a software update to its driver assist system. 

Tesla’s software allows it to do many things, including pulling a vehicle out of a garage, without a driver. 

But, those systems are not meant to take it on the highway without a person being involved in the driving process. 

On August 26 in Nash County, a Tesla slammed into a police cruiser while troopers said the driver was watching a movie while the vehicle was on autopilot. 

That was just the latest in a series of crashes involving the car while its driver assist system was operating. 

Tesla owner Arthur Ryan Harris of Raleigh said the car will warn you if you’re doing something wrong with autopilot. 

“It will tell you need to keep your hands on the wheel,” he said. “If it encounters a situation on the road it has trouble with, it will alert you and tell you to take over.” 

In an effort to improve its driver assistance systems even more, Tesla is now sending out software updates for the vehicle. 

A few of the updates include:  

  • Stop Light control (which slows and stops the vehicle for all detected traffic signals)
  • Stop Warning (which alerts you if you are about to run a stoplight or stop sign) 
  • Speed Assist Improvements (which use Tesla’s cameras to detect speed limit signs) 

Harris said people who use autopilot to just drive and take their hands off the wheel “are being reckless and irresponsible for sure.” 

Although the semi-autonomous system can steer, accelerate and slow down the car on its own, in its current form, the system is a driver’s aide only.  

Yet, studies by groups like those done by AAA have shown names like “autopilot” delude drivers into making bad decisions. 

William Horrey of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety told CBS News, “They tended to think the system was a lot more capable than it was.” 

“They expected it could perform in a lot of situations that, in fact, it couldn’t,” he said.

Harris agreed. 

“I think people are confused about the capabilities at this point in time.” 

With each new software update to its system, every Tesla on the road get a little smarter. 

“It’s a little like a 16-year-old learning to drive,” said Harris. “It slowly starts learning and gets a little better over time.” 

However, the artificial intelligence that make a Tesla, or any other car, completely self-driving is  still years away. 

“I still have to be vigilant and pay attention to what’s happening,” said Harris. 

If you own a Telsa, it’s important to know that not every Tesla gets the same software upgrade, it depends on the model you own. 

No matter what upgrade you get however, it’s no substitute for you being the driver. 

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