Tesla Autopilot will detect green lights and speed limit signs, then will allow many other things thanks to a new software update
Tesla began deploying Update 2020.36 this weekend, introducing some notable new features to its vehicles. Although only a few vehicles have received the update so far, 2020.36 clearly shows that the electric car manufacturer has made progress in its efforts to improve its city driving assistance systems. Electrek reports that the new version of the software update provides visual detection of speed limit signs and much more.
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For some time, there has been speculation about the extent to which Tesla was using GPS data versus actual detection of speed limit signs to detect speed limits for its autopilot functions. You can now expect Tesla cars to become more effective at recognizing speed limit signs using their cameras in the near future. Electrek reported that the car manufacturer is pushing a new version of its software update that will allow the Autopilot system in its vehicles to detect speed limit signs using their cameras.
When the camera detects a speed limit sign, it will be displayed on the driver's viewing screen in the car and used to set a speed limit warning. This is revealed in the release note for version 2020.36 of the firm's software, released Saturday, which introduces a new feature called "Speed Assist Improvements".
"Speed Assist" now uses your car's cameras to detect speed limit signs to improve the accuracy of speed limit data on local roads. The detected speed limit signs will be displayed in the Driving View and used to set the associated speed limit warning", reads the note.
But the latest software update does more than that. It has also relied on the functions for controlling traffic lights and stop signs, and for adding a new ring tone when your Tesla is stopped at a stop light that turns green.
"A buzzer sounds when the traffic light you're waiting for turns green. If you are waiting behind another car, the buzzer will play once the car is moving forward, unless cruise control or autosteering is enabled. When traffic light and stop sign control is activated, a buzzer will play when you can confirm that a light turns green. To activate it, tap Controls > Autopilot > Green Traffic Light Chime.
But this is only a notification, so it is up to the driver to decide if and when to move the car forward. "This ring tone is intended as a notification only. It is the driver's responsibility to observe his environment and make decisions accordingly," according to Tesla's note.
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However, the Autopilot's recognition of the green light and the car's position relative to other drivers means that it may soon incorporate the ability to move on its own after the bell. It will also be able to automatically stay within the speed limit by recognizing speed limit signs.
Tesla has also made some speed improvements: "Quickly adjust the "Traffic-Aware Cruise Control" or "Autosteer" feature to the current speed by simply tapping on the cluster's speedometer. You can still tap the speed limit panel to adjust the set speed to the speed limit", according to the update note.
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"Traffic-Aware Cruise Control" adapts the speed of your car to the speed of the surrounding traffic, while "Autosteer" helps you navigate in a clearly marked lane and uses the cruise control according to the traffic. Previously, you had to use the scroll buttons on the steering wheel to change the speed or reset "Traffic-Aware Cruise Control".
Tesla is currently working on key features for its Full Self-Driving (FSD) suite, which is expected to enable vehicles to navigate city center streets without driver intervention. Tesla's FSD suite is still under development, although the company has released the first versions of key features such as traffic light and stop sign control, which were introduced last April.
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The "Control of traffic lights and stop signs" function has been made available to Tesla vehicles with the beta version of the FSD suite of autopilot and, when enabled, it slows the car to stop at traffic lights and stop signs. It requires the driver to take action - either by depressing the gas pedal or pulling the autopilot rod - before the car can move forward.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted in 2018 about a version of the traffic light and stop sign control feature that was under development at the time, saying, "Your Tesla will soon be able to move from your garage at home to a parking lot at work without any driver intervention.
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But even though Tesla calls this version of Autopilot Full Self-Driving, and despite Musk's promise to have fully autonomous Tesla's by the end of this year, it is not yet the case. Tesla cars still need humans behind the wheel. The FSD offer, which was $8,000 in July, gives customers access to incremental improvements such as speed limits and stop sign controls. In addition, vehicles continue to be involved in accidents with Autopilot engaged. However, if all of these updates reach Tesla cars in a few weeks, they will bring Tesla closer to fully autonomous driving.