Tesla Motors Inc will roll out an update to Model S owners on Thursday that will see the cars drive themselves on highways across the country. One Tesla Motors fan, who seems to have gotten their hands on the update as part of its beta test, showed off the full experience in working order in a YouTube video posted ahead of the release.
Tesla Motors kept tight control of info about the Autopilot update as it went through beta testing. All of those who managed to get involved with the program had to sign a non-disclosure agreement so that not details, good or bad, about update 7.0 would get out ahead of time. As we wait for the downloads to begin in the next 24 hours, that NDA seems to have gone out the window.
Tesla Motors Inc Model S drives itself
If you’ve never seen a demo of a self-driving car before, brace yourself. Tesla Motors has clearly built, as Fred Lambert of Electrek noted in his preview of the Autopilot beta, a system that works. Before we say any more, take a look at the video of a Model S cruising hands free down the highway.
The car is moving at more than 100 miles per hour down the highway with no kind of intervention from the driver. When the car feels like there’s something wrong it will alert the driver and ask them to take control. If the driver is not able to do so the software is, according to Tesla Motors, programmed to safely slow down and pull in in order to make sure all is okay.
At the end of the above video we see a curve approaching the Model S, or vice versa. It’s not clear why the person taking the video chose to edit out the car taking the curve. It may be that the system failed to function around the bend, and the owner thought a good preview of Tesla Motors Autopilot wouldn’t end in abject failure.
Tesla Motors Autopilot isn’t going to work properly
Tesla Motors put its Autopilot program into public beta testing less than two months ago. It’s likely that in that time the system has managed to get over some real flaws, and Elon Musk clearly thinks that it’s both safe and impressive enough to release right now. That doesn’t mean it’s going to work properly, however.
This is going to be the first generation of Autopilot software and, more than likely, it’s going to have huge flaws. Going around corners won’t be automatic in some kinds of light, the system won’t have all of the features that Mr. Musk promised, and it’s going to bug out in weird ways that Tesla Motors will have to fix.
That’s not a problem, at least not for those that really love Tesla Motors. In the coming months Elon Musk’s team will add to the features of Autopilot, and fix a lot of those bugs.
That’s where Tesla Motors really shines compared to its rivals. There’s lots of self-driving systems on the road right now, and in cars far more numerous than the Tesla Motors Model S. Some of them are worse than what we see in the above video, and some are likely better.
What is clear, however, is that in 6-12 months the 2014 Model S will probably be the best 2014 self-driving car on the road. As for 2015 and 2016, we’re going to have to wait and see.