A new software update has enabled a section of Tesla’s newest vehicles to recognise and respond to traffic lights and stop signs. The update is now available for vehicles that are equipped with the Hardware 3 package and the fully optioned Autopilot Package that has been marketed as “full self-driving”.
The feature called ‘Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control’ will automatically slow the car down for traffic lights and stop signs. As the vehicle approaches an intersection, a notification will declare the intent to slow down. The vehicle will then automatically slow down and stop at the red line indicated on the driving visualisation in the central display.
To continue through an intersection, the driver will have to pull down once on the Autopilot stalk or tap the accelerator pedal- even if the light is green.
The company stresses in the release notes that the feature is in its beta version and thus may be conservative and slow down a lot at first. The company assured that the feature will operate more naturally once the company “learns from its fleet”.
Despite the company selling a “full self-driving” version, it has to be noted that these vehicles are not actually self-driven. Tesla has reiterated that the autopilot still won’t perform turns and “will not control for all intersections.” For example, the feature will not work in the case of railroad crossings or a pedestrian crosswalk. Further, the company said that “performance may be degraded” in cases of environments involving pedestrians, sunlight, rain or in the case of obstructed traffic lights. Tesla has stressed that drivers must “continue to pay attention and be ready to take immediate action.” The update has also improved the driving visualisation, which now features stop signs and traffic lights.
Elon Musk had teased the development of this feature back in 2018 saying that “Your Tesla will soon be able to go from your garage at home to the parking at work with no driver input”. Musk has long promised entirely self-driven cars but the current “fully self-driven” versions offer only incremental features like Traffic Light and Stop Sign control or automatic lane change. Tesla owners can hope that soon, a sum total of these features will equal full autonomy.