Tesla has begun rolling out its latest suite of driver aides, moving it from testing by the company’s engineers to beta testing using select Tesla owners. The system is called Autopilot 7.0, but this is perhaps a slightly grandiose name, because the system really isn’t a huge step up from the previous generation. It won’t, for example, drive you to your destination all on its own. The system is designed to keep you in your lane and will handle acceleration and braking. So any steering beyond slight corrections to maintain your lane will be up to you.

This is still a very useful system though, and it will surely be your best friend when you get caught in heavy traffic. But even in these circumstances, it will still require occasional input from a human, in the form of the periodic touching of the turn indicator. This is essentially to confirm that a human is still paying attention to what is going on, and although it’s required for legal reasons, it’s really not a bad idea for something still in beta testing. The system reportedly works best when following another vehicle, so heavy traffic situations are actually preferable.
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Why it matters

Tesla is being as tight-lipped as ever with the details of the testing, but considering it is in testing, this really isn’t so weird. The testers themselves are being pretty quiet about the whole thing too, but this is again normal, especially for Tesla. So there is no information as yet about how things are going, how long the testing is expected to last, or how well any of it works. What we can say with certainty is that it won’t stop here; more and more automation is coming to take more and more driving away from you, whether you like it or not.

2015 Tesla Model S

2015 Tesla Model S High Resolution Exterior
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Source: IEEE Spectrum

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