Soon after launching its Version 9 of Autopilot a couple of weeks ago, Tesla has followed up with an additional update to equip its vehicles with its Navigate with Autopilot feature, a driver assistance system that brings the vehicles closer to being able to drive on their own.
Tesla officially released the Version 9 update earlier this month, which included a new dash cam feature, games that can be played while the car is parked, and updates to the vehicle’s navigation settings, and indicated that Navigate would be following shortly thereafter.
In a blog post, Tesla says that with driver supervision, cars equipped with the feature will be able guide “a car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including suggesting and making lane changes, navigating highway interchanges, and taking exits.” This isn’t fully autonomous driving: drivers will need to approve lane changes by using the stalk, although Tesla notes that they’ll be able to waive this in future updates. Tesla also says that drivers will still need to pay attention to the road, and characterizes this as “an additional layer of safety that two eyes alone would not have.”
Tesla also released a short video that demonstrates how to use the feature, showing off how to activate the feature and how to approve lane-changes and merging on the highway.
The system uses an array of cameras, radar, and sensors to determine what objects are surrounding the vehicle, and uses this information to help the vehicle navigate, all while sending data back to the company’s vision and neural net system, allowing it to improve its software. Tesla says that since Autopilot was launched in 2015, it’s collected more than a billion miles worth of data.
But there have been concerns Autopilot was apparently responsible for a navigational error that resulted in a fatal crash, and the company settled a class action lawsuit over delays to the system back in May. Tesla also recently stopped promoting the “Full Self-Driving” option for its cars, saying that it was taking the option off temporarily because it was causing too much confusion.