A Tesla Model S on Autopilot recently navigated a rather tricky left-hand, 90-degree turn at a busy intersection without getting disengaged. Going into the turn, the Model S, which was equipped with AP 2.0 hardware and firmware version 2019.8.5, moved smoothly, as could be seen in Autopilot’s precise steering of the vehicle.
Granted, conditions were favorable to the Tesla Model S and its Autopilot driver-assist system when it performed the left-hand maneuver. As noted by Eli Burton, the vehicle’s driver, the lane lines were clear in that particular intersection, which could have helped Autopilot navigate the 90-degree turn. There was a car in front of the Model S as well, and the speed of the maneuver was a very manageable 18-25 mph.
Nevertheless, the improvements in Autopilot were notably evident in the recently-captured footage. Remarks from fellow Tesla owners in the YouTube video’s comments section note that even electric cars equipped with newer AP 2.5 hardware like the Model 3 usually require driver intervention when navigating a similar turn on Autopilot.
These improvements to Autopilot take Tesla one step forward in its efforts to bring a Full Self-Driving solution to the market. One of Tesla’s key strategies for the future is to operate an autonomous ride-hailing network in the form of Robotaxis operated under the Tesla Network. For this service to be successful, Tesla must ensure that its vehicles can handle the trickiest of traffic conditions within city streets like an experienced driver. This, of course, includes tricky left-hand 90-degree turns.
Elon Musk estimates that Tesla’s Full Self-Driving capabilities will be “feature complete” by the end of the year, which means that vehicles will likely be able to operate on their own under the constant watch of a driver. “I think we will be feature complete — full self-driving — this year. I would say I am certain of that. That is not a question mark. However, people sometimes will extrapolate that to mean now it works with 100 percent certainty, requires no observation, perfectly. This is not the case,” Musk said.
Tesla currently lists several features under its Full Self-Driving suite, which was brought back when the company introduced the Standard and Standard Plus Model 3. These features include Navigate on Autopilot with unconfirmed lane changes, Enhanced Summon, and Autopark, which are already available today. By the end of the year, Tesla will roll out the capability to recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs, as well as automatic driving on city streets.
Watch a Tesla Model S navigate a left-hand 90-degree turn in the video below.