Tesla Restricts Awesome Autopilot Feature In Cars After Risky Driver Behavior But Adds ‘Summon’

Tesla released an update for its cars that restricts the autopilot abilities after video surfaced of drivers indulging in risky behavior, resulting in multiple near misses. However, the company added some interesting features such as like "summon," which allows the car to work its way through tight spaces.

Tesla Motors announced a variety of software updates for its cars that mostly pertained to the self-driving autopilot functionality. The new update, which adds multiple additional functionalities, including the cool summon feature that allows drivers to remotely ask the car to pull in or out of a parking spot without any human assistance, also installs a number of restrictions on where the autopilot function can be used, reported AJC.

Enabling its vehicles to drive autonomously, Tesla Motors had confidently introduced an autopilot feature in October of last year. However, the electric car maker announced it is scaling back the capabilities of the feature after videos emerged on YouTube featuring Tesla drivers pushing the feature to its limits, reported ITP.

Essentially, the autopilot feature allowed drivers to cruise on highways as well as roads in residential areas without touching the steering wheel or the pedals. Besides working really well on the highways, the system was optimized to work in stop-and-go traffic as well. Additionally, it allowed the vehicle to park itself, including parralell parking. However, the autopilot system has a potential to be abused, hinted CEO Elon Musk said during a third-quarter conference call. He said the company would likely update the software in its autopilot system.

Sunday's update that restricts the ability of the autopilot was the result of drivers posting dozens of videos of themselves doing unsafe things while the autopilot was turned on. Numerous videos on the internet showed the drivers getting into the rear seat while the car was operating or reading a book all the while ignoring the road.

The latest version, referred to as v7.1, installs automatically via the internet, and owners can't stop the update from being installed. After the new update, Tesla's vehicles won't be able to go into autopilot on residential streets. Additionally, the autopilot won't engage on roads without a center divider. Tesla even restricted the top speed of the vehicle to ensure additional safety. On certain roads, the autopilot won't be able to exceed the posted speed limit by more than 5 miles per hour.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared the autopilot updates were "necessary after witnessing dozens of people posting videos of themselves doing unsafe things with their Tesla cars' autopilot systems," reported Business Insider. However, he stressed that the company is proud of how far this self-driving technology has come.

"It's probably better than a person right now (at driving). In the next two years or so, Tesla cars will be able to drive virtually all roads at a safety level significantly better than humans. I think within two years you'll be able to summon your car from across the country."
Despite the seemingly excessive restrictions that may appear to diminish the appeal of the futuristic electrical vehicles that Tesla offers, the company claimed the autopilot feature has simply been modified to improve steering in common highway driving. For instance, the vehicle will now make turns just like a normal driver. The refined system already recognizes upcoming curves but will now slow the vehicle down into the curve as a human would. In the earlier versions, the car would maintain the same speed while turning.

Tesla maintains that the autopilot system collects data from every Tesla car on the road and feeds the company's intelligence network, which is constantly improving and updating to understand how drivers behave in certain situations and specific areas and roads. The data then informs every other car in the fleet, reported Tech Insider.

[Photo by Josh Edelson/Getty Images]