Modern cars have come a long way when it comes to safety since first installing safety belts and airbags. Now, many cars come with safety features such as automatic braking, lane departure warnings, backup cameras, and proximity alarms. While we may still be a miles away from a totally autonomous vehicle, one manufacturer, Tesla Motors, is making headway in this respect. Their cars have a system they have named “Autopilot” which can actively make drivers better and some believe, less dependent on their own skill. The term itself, “Autopilot” has been scrutinized due to a rash of recent accidents involving driver inattention and the Autopilot system. Dayton 24/7 Now reports that Tesla is reporting that its cars will now automatically stop for traffic lights.
After testing the system on public roads, Tesla is rolling out its next design focused on achieving fully autonomous vehicles. The partially automated system is designed to spot traffic signals and stop signs.
The company updated cruise control and automatic steering systems. However, the development comes against the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations that the vehicles be limited where they can be driven. This recommendation comes after the Autopilot system has failed to spot and react to hazards, causing three fatal crashes.
The feature was rolled out to randomly selected owners to test. It was designed to recognize traffic lights, including those that are green or flashing yellow. The car will notify its owner of its intent to slow down and stop, a signal which the driver must respond to by pushing down the gear selector and the accelerator when it is safe to proceed.
The company warns, however, that drivers must remain alert and be prepared to take immediate action. The system may not recognize all traffic signals or signs.
Tesla maintains that the Autopilot system is about twice as safe as when the system is not engaged.
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