The full capabilities of Tesla’s Autopilot and Full-Self Driving features like Smart Summon may be available in Europe soon, as legislators are reportedly considering relaxing its stance on autonomous vehicles and driver-assist functions.
Regulations in the EU currently restrict some features of Tesla Autopilot from being used to their full potential by electric car drivers. Some of these regulations prevent Tesla from rolling out features such as Smart Summon, while crippling features such as Navigate on Autopilot. Fortunately, following a proposal submitted by the European Association for Electromobility (Avere), changes may be coming soon, according to The Telegraph.
EU legislation currently adopts the rules utilized by the United Nations. While these guidelines are intended to promote a safer driving experience for everyone on the road, they inhibit advanced systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot from working in its intended fashion. For example, the current guidelines and rules force vehicles with a system like Autopilot to change lanes within five seconds after an assisted lane-change maneuver is initiated.
This sounds like an idea that would promote safer, more efficient driving behavior, but if the vehicle does not execute the lane change within the five-second time window, the rules dictated that cars must abandon the lane-change attempt. As noted by Tesla owners from the region, this could happen halfway into a lane-change maneuver and result in dangerous situations on the road.
Avere’s proposal recognizes the lane change function specifically. They note the allotted time for lane changes is significantly too short, and they want to quadruple the amount of time from five seconds to twenty seconds. Spokesman for the UN Economic Commission for Europe, Thomas Croll-Knight, stated “several representatives from Tesla” were in attendance at a meeting of the UN’s working party, in order to help put together a presentation of the proposed improvements.
On top of the lane change flaw, the regulations also inhibit the Autopilot software from performing some turns that the EU defines as “too sharp.” This will cause Autopilot to shut off in the middle of a turn, giving control of the vehicle back to the driver. While Tesla notes drivers should have their hands on the wheel at all times while operating in Autopilot, this can create an unsafe driving situation for anyone, even those who are following the company’s guidelines for operation while using autonomous driving software.
One feature on the minds of everyone who owns a Tesla is Smart Summon. Europe has yet to approve any form of the feature giving owners the ability to call their vehicles to their location via the Tesla smartphone app. However, it is assumed the company will work on an idea to get some form of it approved in the EU so owners can utilize at least some of its features. Spokesperson for the European Transport Safety Council, Dudley Curtis, stated that his organization “thinks that these kinds of automated features need independent regulatory testing and approval based on a common list of performance requirements and safety standards.”