Tesla Autopilot can now recognize stop lights and warn drivers in danger of running through them thanks to a feature rolling out in the latest software update (2019.8.3) called Autosteer Stop Light Warning. Tesla vehicles that were manufactured from October 2016 on and have Autopilot or Full Self-Driving will automatically receive the new feature.
Autosteer Stop Light Warning’s primary advantage is that it can calculate whether a vehicle will blow through a stop light that the system has detected and then generate a visible and audible warning for the driver to take over. In part, the center touchscreen will flash a red-colored steering graphic with instructions for the driver to “Take Over Immediately” after a relevant stop light situation is detected.
Analyzing mapping data and cross-referencing that with data from Tesla’s vision system and the cars’ external cameras has enabled this stop light feature to become a reality. In effect, the system can confirm that a stoplight is in each specific location and the vision system has been trained to detect red lights.
Crashes and injuries attributed to red light running have affected over 137,000 people in recent years according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and with these types of numbers in mind, Tesla has continued to develop its products to address safety as the company’s highest priority. Stop Light Warning is one more step towards the all-electric car maker’s goal of creating safer-than-humans autonomous driving.
Tesla has also confirmed that a separate feature capable of recognizing and responding to traffic lights and stop signs is planned for release later this year. CEO Elon Musk teased about this feature, to also include handling roundabouts, previously via Twitter.
A few limitations still apply when using Stop Light Warning. First, the feature does not automatically apply the brakes; and second, not all stop lights will work with this latest advancement in Tesla’s journey to self-driving capabilities, but improvements will continue to roll out as they become ready.
Some Tesla drivers have noticed their Autopilot software already giving right away during lane changes. A video posted by reddit user privaterbok demonstrated Autopilot purposely responding to its environment in a side-by-side matchup: One side showed the center touchscreen’s driving graphic animating the input received and directions it was was sending to the car, and the other showed the car’s actual response.
Elon Musk recently confirmed the initial rollout of the Navigate on Autopilot without turn stalk confirmation feature as well as Enhanced Summon as yet another part of the march to Full Self-Driving ability. In keeping with most of Tesla’s new rollouts, the features will be introduced to small groups first and expanded to a wide release once any additional improvements are made. Both features are only being offered as part of Tesla’s $5,000 Full Self-Driving package which is in addition to the required $3,000 Autopilot.