Tesla Autopilot is going to get a whole lot smarter, CEO Elon Musk revealed on Sunday, as the company tests improvements to its semi-autonomous driving mode that enables the computer to take over in a limited set of circumstances. The feature is intended as a stepping stonr to full autonomous driving.
In a Twitter thread discussing the benefits of “Navigate on Autopilot,” the feature released last month that turns off at the correct exit depending on the inputted destination, Musk explained that the company is already working on improving capabilities further. Next up is traffic light detection, which could enable the car to react accordingly to signals. Another in development is stop sign detection, and a third is roundabouts. The latter may come at an ideal time for American drivers: while roundabouts have long been a common sight in Europe and elsewhere, it’s only recently surged in popularity stateside, with annual construction jumping from just 13 in 1996 to nearly 200 in 2016.
Musk also hinted at further upgrades in the future, describing a system where the Tesla will “go from your garage at home to parking at work with no driver input at all.” The company’s “Summon” feature, which autonomously moves the car out of the garage to the curb and back again, is set to receive big boosts with features including the ability to remotely control the car and one day hail the vehicle from across the country.
These features are built on the “Hardware 2” sensor suite, a set of cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors included with every car since October 2016. The plan is to use those same cameras to offer point-to-point autonomous driving, with an upgrade to the Nvidia Drive PX 2 computer chip that will enable even faster processing for more high-pressure situations. The resultant suite, “Hardware 3,” is set to start shipping soon.
With Musk already discussing potential features for the next major release, a launch could be just around the corner.
Related video: Tesla Autopilot Summon Feature Sends the Car to the Road