Tesla announces ‘auto-steering’ plans

The boss of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, has stated that a software update to Tesla’s Model S vehicles, coming in three months’ time, will give them ‘auto-steering’ capabilities.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Elon Musk stated that a software update to Tesla’s Model S vehicles, coming in three months’ time, will give them ‘auto-steering’ capabilities making it technically possible to travel from San Francisco to Seattle without the human ‘driver’ needing to take any actions.

He added that the self-driving technology would be restricted to highways and other major roads, since the equipment in the Model S is not capable of handling more complex situations.

He said, ‘It is technically capable of going from parking lot to parking lot, but we won’t be enabling it for users with this hardware suite because we don’t think it is safe in suburban neighbourhoods.’

He later said that the company was still assessing how to implement the technology, but that the aim was for it to ‘function in much the same way as an autopilot system on an aircraft’.

The comments came in the same week that the Tesla chief executive appeared at a Silicon Valley conference to claim that autonomous driving was ‘a solved problem’.

‘Elon is an excellent publicist, but on this topic it seems he’s promising a lot before there is really a legal and insurance framework in place for this kind of thing,’ said Jack Bergquist, analyst at IHS Automotive. ‘I wonder whether this is just a broad statement, like ‘We’re going to sell X million cars by 2025’.’

Mr Musk refused to comment on the state of any discussions with officials about the use of the company’s technology, but that Tesla was ‘in constant contact with regulators around the world’.

However, the announcement of hands-free steering on its Model S sedan, saw shares In Telsa fall more than two per cent.

Credit: Financial Times