Tesla Motors is updating its semi-autonomous driving system Autopilot with new limits on hands-off driving and other improvements in a bid to enhance the safety and prevent accidents.
Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Sunday that the update will rely mainly on radar to give Tesla’s electric cars a better sense of what is around them and when to brake, Reuters reports.
The improved system will be available within a week or two through an “over-the-air” software update.
New restrictions of Autopilot 8.0 are a nod to widespread concerns that the system lulled users into a false sense of security through its “hands-off” driving capability, Reuters noted.
The updated system now will temporarily prevent drivers from using the system if they do not respond to audible warnings to take back control of the car.
“We’re making much more effective use of radar,” Musk was quoted as telling reporters on a phone call. “It will be a dramatic improvement in the safety of the system done entirely through software.”
Tesla’s Autopilot, introduced last October, has been the focus of intense scrutiny since it was revealed in July that a Tesla Model S driver, Joshua Brown, was killed while using the technology in a May 7 collision with a truck in Florida.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating Tesla’s Autopilot system since June because of the fatal accident.
Musk said on Sunday that is “very likely” the improved Autopilot would have prevented the death of Brown, whose car sped into the trailer of a truck crossing a highway.
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