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Car and Driver: Tesla Autopilot Adds “Summon” Remote-Parking Ability, Restricts Autosteer Function


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Can absolute autonomous cars corrupt absolutely? Tesla owners may have posted a few too many Autopilot videos for Elon Musk’s comfort, clips that show Model S sedans going out of control without a single finger on the wheel. Now, the fun’s (partially) over.


Model S software version 7.1 fleshes out Musk’s tweet in October when he previewed improvements for Autopilot, the self-driving cruise control active on any road where the car’s single camera can detect lane markings or curbs. According to Tesla, the latest Autopilot version will slow the car down to posted speed limits upon entering a residential area or for any road with opposing traffic not separated by physical dividers. The system will exceed the limit by only five mph.


Autosteer functionality is also said to be less confused by passing exit ramps and will keep the car in the current rightmost lane unless the driver activates the right-hand blinker, at which time the car will slow (but not necessarily steer) to prepare to exit. On curves, the Model S will slow down “appropriately.” When approaching vehicles in adjacent lanes, Autosteer will give more wiggle room than it would driving past a barrier or an empty lane. Forward collision and blind-spot alerts will also beep and flash less often, for the sake of fewer false alarms. The instrument cluster display can show multiple vehicles in the general vicinity, and has new graphics for cars, motorcycles, and trucks.


2015 Tesla Model S


At the same time, Tesla has added an autonomous parking feature that all other luxury automakers have disabled for the U.S. market. Accompanied by the disclaimer that “you should only use this feature on private property,” the new Summon function can park the Model S into a straight space with no one behind the steering wheel. So long as you’re no more than 33 feet away from the spot and stand by the car within a 10-foot radius, the Model S will now creep with the key fob. Holding the front-trunk release button drives it forward, while holding the rear-hatch release button slides it into reverse for backing out.


When the parking sensors see an obstacle, the transmission shifts into park. When combined with HomeLink, the Model S will even open your garage from a preset distance and close it, a boon for owners who might have narrow garage spaces. Combine it with Summon, but Tesla asks that you first move your kids’ bikes and other crap out of the way since the sensors can’t detect thin, upright objects or anything lower than the bumper. Automatic perpendicular parking also is available, but you’ll actually have to sit in the car for that one.


Further still, Musk says in two years you’ll be able to summon a driverless Model S from across the country. Currently, that’s called a “car carrier,” where only the driver needs to recharge.


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