Tesla cars can now park themselves, but autopilot limited

Tesla's new software update curbs some of the original functionality of the semi-autonomous system, dubbed Autopilot. Among the other changes to Autopilot is more accurate steering.

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    Autopilot features are demonstrated in a Tesla Model S during a Tesla event in Palo Alto, Calif. last year.
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Late last year we saw Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] beam across a software update for its Model S that allowed the car to steer itself in certain situations. Videos posted to YouTube soon after the release of the software update showed owners using the system incorrectly, leading to Tesla releasing a new software update, version 7.1, which curbs some of the original functionality of the semi-autonomous system, dubbed Autopilot.

The system, now also available on the Model X, has been restricted on residential roads without a center divider. When the system is engaged on a restricted road, the speed will be limited to the speed limit of the road plus an additional 5 mph. When entering such a restricted road, the car will reduce its speed if necessary and will do so even if the driver increases the cruise control set speed.

Among the other changes to Autopilot is more accurate steering. The system has been improved to keep the car in its current lane when passing highway exits or other turn offs, and also to keep the car in its current lane when lane markings are faded. Previously the car could swerve thinking it needed to take one the exits. The visuals in the instrument cluster have also been updated for improved readability.

Another key change is the addition of a new Summon feature. Designed for a garage at home, Summon allows you to automatically open your garage door (when linked) and have the car parked and eventually switched off without you needing to be in thevehicle. It also works in reverse. But what if you have the car plugged in charging? Tesla says Summon is currently in a Beta stage but eventually it will work together with something like the creepy robotic arm charging system previously previewed by the company.

The goal for Tesla is eventually to have an Autopilot system so advanced that itscars will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will synchronize with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.

CEO Elon Musk says such capability will be possible within two years but don’t count on seeing driverless Teslas zipping around the country as legislation, along with the general public’s acceptance of the technology, will likely take a little while longer to catch up.

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