For Tesla drivers, there are no more excuses for letting your car’s hyper-advanced cruise control get the better of you.
After a fatal May crash in which a driver of a Tesla Model S was killed when his car failed to implement a brake system, it seemed unclear in the aftermath how Elon Musk’s company would address increased scrutiny over the safety of its beta system. Tesla now hopes to prevent similar accidents by updating the safety restrictions of the Autopilot feature.
Electrek, a news site for Tesla obsessives, reported on Monday “that Tesla will introduce new Autopilot safety restrictions in order to reduce the risk of similar accidents happening again.”
It initially seemed like Tesla might disable Autopilot, but the company quickly scrapped the idea and instead opted to “redouble efforts to educate customers on how the system works,” the Wall Street Journal reported in July.
Tesla’s current beta Autopilot provides frequent visual and audio alerts to users if it doesn’t detect the user’s hands on the wheel. If alerts continue for more than 15 seconds, the vehicle gradually slows down the car until it detects the driver’s grip again.
Rather than simply slowing down the car, the updated features will reportedly block the driver from re-engaging Autopilot if it is disengaged at any point. The driver could only reactivate after it parks.
While it’s uncertain when exactly the new features will be released, Musk recently mentioned the v8.0 update of the car — which could include the enhanced Autopilot restrictions — in a press conference for new P100D battery pack.
NASA recently spoke out against Tesla’s automation system, suggesting that humans just aren’t capable of reacting quickly enough once automation takes over, Scientific American recently reported.
“When something pops up in front of your car, you have one second,” Stephen Casner, a research psychologist in NASA’s Human Systems Integration Division told Scientific American. “You think of a Top Gun pilot needing to have lightning-fast reflexes? Well, an ordinary driver needs to be even faster.”
In July, German regulators refused to approve Tesla’s Autopilot for road use because it was still in beta mode. While it released a preliminary report in July confirming the use of Autopilot in the crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety is still investigating the incident. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has also launched its own investigation into whether or not Tesla broke the law by withholding information about the May crash from investors. Musk, in a dispute with a Fortune magazine writer about not disclosing the Autopilot death to investors, said the information “wasn’t material” as it pertained to Tesla stock.
Photos via Tesla YouTube