Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) is touting its high-tech autopilot feature that allows Tesla owners to ride the vehicle hands-free. According to Elon Musk, the probability of accidents while the autopilot mode is on reduces by half which makes the car safer compared to human driving. Electric Vehicle (EV) publishing website, Electrek reports that in conversation with Norway’s Minister of Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen, backs the claim with early data generated from the first version of the autopilot feature.
His exact words are: “The probability of having an accident is 50% lower if you have Autopilot on. Even with our first version. So we can see basically what’s the average number of kilometers to an accident – accident defined by airbag deployment. Even with this early version, it’s almost twice as good as a person,” as reported by Electrek.
Already Tesla vehicles have driven nearly 47 million miles (75 million kilometers) on autopilot mode since it was launched in October 2015. Just as the feature gets more recognition in the auto industry and among Tesla owners, the usability of this feature is expected to surge which will eventually generate more data for the company to comprehend safety results.
This feature is present in Tesla’s Model S sedan, and Model X. As the automaker is continuously increasing the production of these cars to sell nearly 80,000 to 90,000 units this year, it is expected that autopilot data will increase significantly. This should help the company establish the efficacy, and safety of autonomous driving.
Already several videos have been uploaded on Youtube where Tesla owners are amazed to see how well the autopilot feature functions. One video also shows how Model S vehicles are quick to avoid side collisions, and alert drivers to take the wheel in case of emergency. The video can be seen below:
Interestingly, Tesla Autopilot feature learns on its own and gradually evolves based on people’s daily usage. The feature is like a network that upgrades as it is used and everyone can benefit from these updates. This way, Tesla owners do not need to take their vehicles to Tesla Stores or factory to get additional safety features as all updates are wireless.
Mr. Musk has been an avid supporter of autonomous driving cars, and has claimed that traditional cars will be driven not for safety purposes but only for sentimental value in future. He expects a fully-autonomous driving system to be ready within the next two years which will further ensure transportation safety. However, the electric car maker needs plenty of supporting data to convince auto regulators over the mainstream adoption of such functionality. For now, regulators around the world are skeptical to allow the system as they fear for the safety of drivers and passengers, even if prompted by users’ negligence. The system was blocked for several months in Hong Kong. It was given a green signal later this year only after Mr. Musk made a visit to Hong Kong and ensured of its safe usability.
Currently, Tesla vehicles are present with beta version of 7.1 Autopilot version. Mr., Musk has made key hirings around the world to make the system more efficient and customized according to local transportation needs around the world. He said that a fully-autonomous system will come with the second-generation of the autopilot feature which Tesla plans to include in its next major update.
Last month, nearly 99% of the automakers present in the US agreed to make automatic emergency brake (AEB) system a standard in all vehicles by 2022. The US transportation regulatory bodies, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) will monitor this initiative which will lead the transport industry to safer driving and fewer rear crashes.
If Tesla Motors is able to prove the safety of its autopilot feature, then there are good chances that the company can make its hands-free driving system mainstream in all of its vehicles. Timely success would be crucial if the company is to include this feature in its first, mass-market variant, Model 3. Already Tesla has hinted that it will add the feature to this car at its unveil event. The relatively cheaper Model 3 has already grabbed more than 400,000 orders.
So far this year, Tesla Motors stock has jumped by 5.77% to outperform the S&P 500 Index’s gain of 1.3% over the same time period. The stock closed at $251.82 on Monday down by 0.76% when compared to its previous close.