Watch This Self-Steering Tesla Model S Drive Itself (And Us) Down The Highway

Oct 19, 2015

Hubbell and Hudson

By Greg Kumparak

For months now, Tesla has been saying that their cars would soon pick up a whole new trick: autopilot.

Later this week, the first of those features will hit Tesla’s fleet — but we’ve already taken them for a spin. We went hands-on (hands-off?) with a pre-release version of the autopilot software, letting the car steer itself down the highway at 70 miles per hour.

One big thing to make clear: these features don’t turn the Model S into a full blown self-driving car. You won’t be punching in your destination and laying back for a nap; instead, these features are meant more to make your long highway commutes less painful.

Elon Musk says he sees full automation coming within about 3 years; this is just a big first step.

So what can it do for now?

Once you’re on the highway, an autosteering feature can maintain your speed, keep an appropriate distance from the cars around you, and keep you in your lane — even around big bends and turns. It doesn’t just let out a loud beep when you start to drift out of your lane; it physically controls the wheel.

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7 comments on “Watch This Self-Steering Tesla Model S Drive Itself (And Us) Down The Highway

  • Automation marches on!

    Let’s hope it is consistently reliable, because like check-out tills and navigation using maps, once the human operators no longer gain and maintain basic skills, the system fails for lack of back-up if the primary control fails!

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  • This sounds like a good first step. Eventually I hope it will lead to a fully automated system that will completely control driving everywhere. That will reduce the carnage on our roads.

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  • Phase 1 deploy to HOV lanes so we don’t have @ssholes breaking because the people next to them are. Meanwhile, no one is in front of them for miles.

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  • Driverless cars will be the norm in the years ahead, and that will generally be a good thing. We are used to driving but it stopped being fun years ago and is not, for younger people, a sensible investment — the cost of training, the cost of a (personal) vehicle, hellishly high insurance. For an ever more densely populated world, sharing cars that drive themselves (so are not so prone to being wrecked by the people who hire them) also makes sense. Fewer vehicles, more space, no need to keep repairing and worrying about annual roadworthiness tests. I see no real downside.
    The technology may fail from time to time (back it up), it may be open to manipulation (what isn’t), but for daily transport, on the whole it has to be a big improvement just to be able to use travel time to do things other than control a vehicle and watch out for others who are not very good at doing the same.

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  • Here’s another step forward, that is work in progress!

    A new design for lithium-air batteries overcomes several big hurdles that have stood in the way of this concept.

    Lithium-air cells can store energy much more densely than today’s lithium-ion batteries, making them particularly promising for electric cars.

    The design, published in Science, uses a spongy graphene electrode and a new chemical reaction to drive the cell.

    It loses much less energy and can be recharged many more times than previous attempts at lithium-air batteries.

    The hope for lithium-air batteries is that they will take in regular air to fuel the chemical reaction that releases electricity: lithium ions move from the positive electrode to the negative one, where they are oxidised.

    At present the engineers behind the new effort, at the University of Cambridge, have only made laboratory test units which operate in pure oxygen, rather than air.

    In a first, however, the prototypes can operate when that oxygen is moist.

    “What we really want is a [true] lithium-air battery – one that just takes in air, without having to remove CO2, nitrogen and water,” Prof Clare Grey, the senior author on the study, told BBC News. “And now we have a system that at least tolerates a lot of water.”

    Despite the significant progress made by Prof Grey’s team, they say a commercial lithium-air battery is at least 10 years away.

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