The soft launch of the much awaited over the air software update of Enhanced Autopilot started showing its effects in about 1000 Tesla vehicles equipped with the advanced Hardware 2, launched last October to facilitate fully autonomous driving. To be followed by a planned worldwide rollout of the update in the remaining vehicles currently functioning in Shadow Mode, a slow and steady effectuation of the update will be witnessed.

What is Shadow Mode?

The vehicles working in Shadow Mode have not taken any self driving action till date rather they have logged the instances where the Autopilot might have taken action and compare those results to the action taken by human drivers. By pitting their software against human drivers, Tesla has managed to collect statistical data regarding potential autonomous vehicle actions to steer consumer’s opinions about self driving cars.

All vehicles are expected to receive Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC), an  Autosteer beta version at only low speeds and Forward Collision Warning features by the end of this week. These features have been introduced with the motive of increasing one’s safety on road, making driving in traffic and making one more confident about letting a software do the driving.

A still from the video of a Tesla Predicting Car Crash

This still captured from Tesla’s camera was taken before the car slowed down on its own, predicting the crash                                                          which was yet to take place.

A video which vent viral last month showed a Tesla predicting a car crash between the car in front of the Tesla and a SUV which had been hidden from view with the help of radar. This successfully served as a testament for the company’s software technologies. Elon Musk firmly believes that Hardware 2 could cut accidents in half and facilitate self driving at a safety level twice than that of a human. Over the past two years, customers have started entrusting their lives to the Autopilot mode more often owing to the advancements in self driving technology surpassing the human efficiency.

Level 5/5 technologies for autonomous driving which had been in Tesla’s pipeline for a long while have finally come into the picture. Tesla’s self driving algorithms have not been launched in a complete package but will be improved and introduced over time. However, the launch of the update seems to be marked by caution as it works on new software and new hardware. It’s a leap towards achieving Tesla’s goal seeing fully autonomous cars on road by the end of 2017. The effectiveness of Enhanced Autopilot can only be measured by the volume of road data collected from its fleet of Hardware 2 vehicles.

Will the Tesla dream be the future?

The three biggest factors preventing autonomous cars from hitting the road are-

  • High prices of technological components
  • Lack on consumer trust in fully autonomous vehicles
  • Relatively nonexistent regulations

Quite often experts have raised their concerns about the premature introduction of self driving cars in a legal system which doesn’t seem to be accommodating them sabotaging the advancements in this field. The current regulations surrounding fully autonomous cars aren’t particularly clear but they still prevent their use as of now.

However, various instances are proving Musk’s claims of a fully automated car being safer than one driven by a human driver which has led to a noticeable increase in consumer credence. The caution that’s being exercised in the launch of the Enhanced Autopilot and the valuable data collected from vehicles operating in Shadow Mode is expected to work in the furtherance of Tesla’s goal of an autonomous future in the realm of cars.