Late last year, when Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk revealed the new D-badged variants of Tesla Model S sedans, he also took the liberty of informing us of some nifty new semi-autonomous – or so-called “autopilot” – driving features which would be available on the entire range.
The last we’d heard, the automaker was still busy testing away, and making sure that the autopilot system on the Tesla Model S can be operated safely and reliably before enabling the feature set with an over-the-air update. According to Green Car Reports, that update ought to be coming along any day now.
But there is an obstacle to activating functions like the Tesla Model S’ “Autopassing,” which would allow the driver to easily initiate an automated overtake in highway traffic; legislation to attribute fault in the event of an accident during automated operation has yet to materialize. It’s very much this same problem which poses a hurdle to all future automated driving systems.
However, it seems as though Tesla Motors has found a clever workaround, in that to initiate an “Autopass,” the “driver” must communicate that intention to the car’s onboard computer by manipulating the turn signal stalk. That could be an easy solution to otherwise problematic legal hangups as the driver action implicates him or her in the maneuver. In other words, by activating the “Autopassing” function, the driver is essentially admitting to having assessed the surrounding traffic and deemed an overtake safe and appropriate.
Nonetheless, it will be interesting to note how many claims – whether legitimate or no – are leveled by owners against the automaker for accidents occurring during autopilot travel.