With the introduction of Tesla’s highly anticipated Autopilot system inching closer, the electric automaker is beta testing the technology using current Model S owners.
According to IEEE Spectrum, a blog run by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer, a group of lucky Tesla customers will get to be guinea pigs for the upcoming Autopilot system.
As extensive as Tesla’s in-house testing program may be, these volunteers will put the Autopilot system through the ultimate crucible — everyday life.
In spite of the name, Autopilot doesn’t transform the Model S into a self driving car overnight. Instead, Tesla’s views the system as technology designed to aid the human driver.
In fact, during the Tesla’s latest earnings call, Musk compared the Tesla system to the autopilot on board an airliner.
In that application, the computer flies the plane under the supervision of pilots in the cockpit.
“We don’t want to set the expectation that it’s that you can just basically pay no attention to what the car is doing,” Musk said during the call.
“We do want to set the expectation that it’s much like the Autopilot in a plane where you turn the Autopilot on in a plane but there’s still some expectation that the pilot will pay attention to what the plane is doing and weren’t sort of go to sleep or disappear from the cockpit.”
What Tesla’s Autopilot will be able to do is help the car maintain its place within a lane, its following distance as well as manage its acceleration and braking.
“I think it’s capability in steering and control of acceleration and braking is excellent,” Musk said. “When it has a tracking vehicle in front and you can basically have high confidence in steering, braking, and acceleration when basically when you’re in some kind of traffic situation where there’s a car on the road in front of you.”
In addition, Autopilot is expected to feature a 360-degree ultrasonic sonar which monitors the car’s periphery, the ability to read street signs, as well as detect vehicles, obstacles and pedestrians.
Tesla’s Autopilot isn’t the only autonomous or semi-autonomous system out there in the automotive universe.
Infiniti offers a series of driver’s aids that team up to allow the car to stay inside a lane, as well as brake and accelerate according to surrounding traffic.
While Audi, BMW, and Volvo all have fully autonomous technology in development that can function without any input from the driver.
Earlier this year, a convoy of Audi RS7s drove autonomously on public roads from San Francisco to Las Vegas.
In 2017, Volvo will actually have 100 customers try out its production autonomous cars on city streets in normal traffic.
The 100 car pilot program will take place on the streets of Volvo’s hometown in Gothenburg, Sweden. It is reportedthat the city has given the company and its customers approval to cruise around selected public streets with car’s autonomous drive program in control.
Further, Google has been testing it’s autonomous technology using a fleet Lexus test vehicles and its own pod cars. Apple is suspected to be working on an autonomous car as well. Although their program seems to still be in an early stage of development
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