In a move toward emulating Google’s infamous, driverless “Google cars,” Tesla Motors has initiated a download of a new autopilot software into thousands of its all-electric Model S vehicles. The new software will allow drivers to select an “autopilot” mode, which will in turn allow the vehicles to drive, change lanes, and parallel park without requiring assistance from the driver. This new technology was developed as a way to help decrease the frequency of car accidents.
The autopilot software works primarily by relying on cameras, sensors, and a sophisticated radar system installed in all of the vehicles. When driving a Model S on the highway, the car’s cameras, sensors and radar are constantly scanning and interpreting data such as the car’s speed, the location of lane markers, where other cars are in reference to the vehicle, and other important safety information.
But the autopilot feature is not meant to replace driver interaction and responsibility altogether. For example, if a driver wants to change lanes, they still have to check their blind spots before hitting the turn signal to initiate an automated lane change. However, if the car senses another vehicle in the lane, it will keep going straight.
Also, the Model S will turn off autopilot if the driver grabs or turns the wheel. Alternatively, it will sound a series of loud, attention-grabbing beeps if the driver doesn’t put their hands on the wheel every few seconds. If the driver still doesn’t respond to the beeps, the car will flash a warning for the driver to take the wheel, and it will eventually slow to a stop and turn on the hazard lights.
When using autopilot, a driver theoretically has a greater level of control over the vehicle. Autopilot can adjust speed when steering into a curve in the road, and it can also maintain a safe speed limit for current road and weather conditions. Advocates of this driverless technology say it could dramatically reduce the 33,000 car accident-related deaths on U.S. highways every year.
New technology in vehicles, no matter how safety-conscious it may seem, can sometimes distract or confuse drivers, and that can lead to car accidents. If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in an accident caused by another motorist, contact the experienced car accident attorneys at The Eichholz Law Firm today.