With the most recent allegation of a collision while a Tesla Model S was in Autopilot mode, the California-based automaker is hustling up a new version of the semi-autonomous technology that is bolstered with more technology.
Autopilot 2.0 features a new front-facing three-camera array as well as additional radar sensors around the car, according to multiple reports. The additional sensors will supplement the forward-oriented radar already used by system.
Tesla is already installing the new three-camera system housing in cars while the new radar sensors doesn’t come as a surprise as Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has suggested that would be coming “sooner than people think.” The idea is to create a system that is “lidar-like” without using lidar, which is more expensive.
The EV maker has been criticized in the wake of the May 9 crash on a Florida highway that took the life of 40-year-old former Navy SEAL Joshua Brown. The exact cause of the incident is still under investigation by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
For its part, Tesla has suggested the car’s camera couldn’t distinguish the white truck Brown’s vehicle hit from a bright Florida sky, while its radar confused the trailer for an overhead sign. Two other collisions have been reported, but Tesla’s disputed both.
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Most recently, a 33-year-old computer programmer in China had a minor crash which he captured on his dash cam. He claims he was told by the dealer’s staff that Autopilot allowed the vehicle to be operated hands-free: another charge disputed by Tesla.
The new technology is eventually going to be supported by updated software, according to a report from Electrek. The new system will better incorporate live data. Currently, Tesla’s system relies on global-positioning satellite data and high precision mapping that is supplemented by live data.
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The new system is still under development so in the meantime the new technology will continue to rely on the original programming. No timeline has been laid out for the new system, but Musk hinted during the company’s most recent earnings call that it will come “sooner than people think.”
Tesla’s been heavily criticized for not shutting the system down in the wake of Brown’s death; however, Musk has implied that the system will only improve if it continues to be used. In each instance of a collision acknowledged by Tesla, the system has been used improperly.
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Brown was suspected to be watching a movie while allowing the car to run semi-autonomously. The company instructs drivers that they must remain alert and engaged while Autopilot is in operation and they are required to have contact with the steering wheel to keep the program engaged.