Tesla Motors is launching a full range of autonomous features on the Model S, available through an over-the-air software update coming this summer.
It is the first self-driving vehicle available to purchase, but Tesla is keeping clear from some of the features future self-driving vehicles will allow, like moving the front seats 180-degrees away from the steering wheel.
Tesla has also taken to calling the autonomous features “pilot-mode”, a little more ambiguous than a self-driving car. The autonomous features allow the car to be summoned from a remote location, switch lanes, slow at red lights and be aware of surroundings.
It is the first step in the race to full autonomy, but considering regulations stop cars from self-driving, Tesla needs to weave its way through the regulators in the United States and Europe, by passing the features off as a simple advanced autopilot.
The event held last week also covered a new trip planning tool, allowing Tesla to automatically set a route with electric car stops on the way. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk claims this will end the range anxiety some electric car owners seem to show with long trips.
These features will not need any mechanical change, both coming via software update. Tesla will also be launching its new Model X sometime this summer, the people carrier that has been in development for over two years.
The push into self-driving from Tesla comes a few weeks after Musk claimed humans will be banned from the driving in the future, due to the safety precautions that self-driving brings. He claims Tesla would support human drivers for as long as possible, but suspects it’s only a matter of time before regulators push to ban human drivers.