Tesla software update allows self-parking, limits speed

January 10, 2016 byDee-Ann Durbin
Tesla Model S

Some Tesla Motors vehicles can park themselves without a driver inside with a software update beamed to customers over the weekend.

The update also puts new speed limits on Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot mode and makes several enhancements, including automatically slowing when the car is approaching a curve and keeping the car in its lane even when the lane markings are faded.

CEO Elon Musk said the parking feature is a "baby step" toward his eventual goal: Letting drivers summon their self-driving, self-charging cars from anywhere using their phones.

"I actually think, and I might be slightly optimistic on this, within two years you'll be able to summon your car from across the country," Musk said on a conference call with reporters. "This is the first little step in that direction."

For now, though, the system isn't truly autonomous.

"It's more like remote-control parking," Musk said.

Owners must line up their Model S sedan or Model X SUV within 33 feet of the space they want it to drive or back into. They must then stand within 10 feet and direct the car to park itself using the key fob or Tesla's smartphone app. The car can also exit the spot when the driver summons it. If it's going into a home garage, it can also open and close the garage door.

Tesla says the system is helpful for tight parking spots, but cautions that it should only be used on private property since it can't detect every potential obstacle. The car could hit bikes hanging from a garage ceiling, for example.

The software update also puts new speed limits on Tesla's semi-autonomous mode. The car will now only drive at or slightly above the speed limit when the Autopilot mode is being used on residential roads and on roads without a center divider. If the car enters such an area in Autopilot mode, it will automatically slow down.

Musk said he's not aware of any accidents caused when a Tesla was driving in Autopilot mode, but he thinks the change won't be a problem for owners.

"On roads without a center divider, where there's potential for a more serious collision, it makes sense not to go more than five miles per hour above the speed limit," he said.

The updates will go into about 60,000 vehicles, including Model S sedans made after September 2014 and the new Model X SUV.

Explore further: Tesla recalling all Model S sedans for seat belt issue

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9 comments

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rrrander
not rated yet Jan 10, 2016
I was once almost pinned between a tractor-trailer and a guardrail. If I hadn't accelerated to 150kph, I would not have been able to avoid it. Speed limiters are ridiculous.
Zenmaster
not rated yet Jan 10, 2016
How can an autonomous car recognize and negotiate inevitable accidents, road repair work or non-functioning traffic lights with humans gesturing or announcing the appropriate movement time and directions, etc? Either a fantastic level of AI problem solving would be required, or we'd have to make laws forcing road workers, emergency crews, police, etc to somehow accommodate the car computer's limitations.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2016
If I hadn't accelerated to 150kph, I would not have been able to avoid it

You can always drop out of autopilot mode. That's just a touch of a button.

How can an autonomous car recognize and negotiate inevitable accidents

It can't. It's the nature of inevitable accidents that they are...inevitable.

The state of traffic lights and road works is known and can be transmnitted to a car. It's not like these things happen without anyone noticing.

dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2016
Autopilot mode and makes several enhancements, including automatically slowing when the car is approaching a curve


Most roads are curvy and most curves are safely negotiable without slowing.

This automatic slowing on curves is going to be very irritating to other drivers on the road and may result in increased rear end collisions when the car behind does not anticipate a drop in the Tesla car's speed.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2016
This automatic slowing on curves is going to be very irritating to other drivers on the road and may result in increased rear end collisions

I don't get these kinds of arguments.

Look. You're on the road. You're supposed to take care. This means being prepared for changes in behavior of others (which includes anything up to them slamming on the brakes for an emergency stop) without rear ending them.

If you rear end someone just because they slow down in curves you're definitely not someone who should own a drivers license. If you're that kind of driver you should really *ask* to be replaced by an autonomous vehicle.
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2016
antialias_physorg,

You don't understand that doing something unexpected can cause accidents? If you brake unexpectedly in heavy traffic, the likelihood that the car behind you still strike your car is greatly increased.

Yes, the driver behind you should be prepared for idiotic behaviors, but even an alert and careful driver can be surprised and forced into an accident.
Guy_Underbridge
1 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2016
Most roads are curvy and most curves are safely negotiable without slowing.

There's a series of switch-backs near my house that would disagree with you. When making blanket statements, make sure the blanket doesn't have 'ignernt' printed all over it.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2016

You don't understand that doing something unexpected can cause accidents?

Sure. But if you consider a car in front of you 'slowing down' as something 'unexpected' then you don't belong behind the wheel. We're not talking handbrake-powerslide maneouvers, here.
There's plenty of drivers out there that will slow down due to all kinds of situations (including curves, rain, wind, whatnot) - even though they could, theoretically, keep going full blast.

People should drive so that they feel safe. Not so that the guy behind them doesn't get inconvenienced from having to look up from their iPhone.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2016
Guy_Underbridge,
You should try to understand the meaning of the word "most". And ignorant is not spelled ignernt.

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