Michael Pizzani ’19, Staff Writer
On October 19th, 2016, Tesla announced that all cars being manufactured would come equipped with full self-driving hardware from that day forward. This wasn’t a huge surprise, as the fully electric car company has been looking into autonomous driving since they began back in 2003. The most major advance thus was the lane-keeping and auto braking cruise control feature called “Autopilot” hit the roads in January 2016, which allowed the driver to take their hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals while on a highway. This was the closest any car company had come to autonomy.
Now the technology is fully here and the hardware is being put into every car being produced by Tesla. Autopilot is still standard and does not require any additional payment, but “Enhanced Autopilot” which changes lanes automatically and enhances safety by switching from using one camera to four. Although it is incredibly innovative, this feature costs an extra 5,000 dollars, making it cost preventive. To have the full self driving feature, which will drive you anywhere on and off the highway is a total of 8,000 dollars.
To demonstrate their new technology, Tesla posted a video to their website (linked down below) that shows a full self-driving Model X. Many people are still skeptical of this new technology and think that it is dangerous to be in an autonomous car. The autopilot crash that went viral a few months ago scared many people away from a self-driving future. After the crash, Tesla published an article onto their website giving their condolences to the family. However, they also stated statistics that actually showed autopilot has had amazing results. According to Tesla, Autopilot has an average of one fatality for every 130 million miles driven, whereas there is one fatality for every 94 million miles driven on average in the US.
Although the technology is there, you won’t be driving along side self-driving Tesla’s yet. There are still legal issues being worked out, and it may take a couple years until the cars are allowed drive on normal roads. In the meantime, highways will increasingly become more populated by Autopilot, especially with the mass market Model 3 coming out next year.