Tesla scaling back Autopilot function on its cars

New limits to be imposed on self-driving functions via software upgrade

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Tesla scaling back Autopilot function on its cars Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the restrictions would be pushed out in a software update (Getty Images)
By  Tom Paye Published  January 11, 2016

Electric-car maker Tesla Motors has announced that it is scaling back an autonomous driving feature that it introduced to its cars last year.

The feature, which was wirelessly pushed out to Tesla cars on the road, allowed an ‘Autopilot' function, where the car would essentially be able to drive itself. However, while the feature garnered plenty of praise for its technical ability, Tesla came in for criticism after videos emerged on YouTube featuring Tesla drivers pushing the feature to its limits.

At the time, Tesla said that drivers were not to take their hands off the steering wheel, even with the Autopilot feature tuned on. However, a number of Tesla drivers ignored the warning, with one even going as far as climbing into the car's back seat.

Now, Tesla has said that it will add more limits to the Autopilot function. It will now be curbed in residential areas, as well as on roads that do not have a centre divider. According to Tesla, drivers will still be able to use the Autopilot function on these roads, but the car will not stray more than 8 km/h above the speed limit on those roads.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the restrictions would be pushed out in a software update. However, he added that, despite the on-road antics of some Tesla drivers, he was unaware of any accidents that had been caused by the function.

And while critics have acknowledged that the Autopilot function is far ahead of many other players in the car industry, Musk has been criticised for rolling out the feature when it is still in beta mode.

Either way, certainly Tesla's technology is the envy of many competing carmakers, who are experimenting with autonomous driving but have not appeared to make the same gains as the electric-car manufacturer.

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