Customers of Tesla Motors can now park their cars remotely, thanks to a software update recently released to the general public. The update, which is part of the company’s efforts to make its cars more autonomous, allows the driver to park his or her vehicle without actually being present inside it.
The update adds a number of enhancements to the Tesla software, including new speed limits for the Autopilot mode for safer driving and the ability to automatically identify the lanes when the markings have faded. The cars will also be able to slow down on their own, when approaching a curve. As CEO Elon Musk explains, the new features are the first steps towards self-parking, self-charging cars that can be remotely summoned using the owners’ phones. Speaking about the update, Musk said:
I actually think, and I might be slightly optimistic on this, within two years you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country. This is the first little step in that direction.
The current system, while not exactly autonomous, works more like “remote-control parking”. The owners are first required to line their vehicles at a distance of around 33 feet from the parking area. Standing within 10 feet of the space, the driver must command the car to park itself, by means of Tesla’s specially-designed smartphone app or the key fob. When summoned by the driver, the car can exit the parking space, and can also open or close the garage door.
Although helpful in case of tight parking spots, the company recommends using the system only on private property. The owner must keep an eye on onstacles as the system is not equipped to automatically detect any potential obstruction. The update also puts new speed limits to the semi-autonomous mode, thanks to which the car now moves at or slightly above the recommended speed limit, when driving on Autopilot in residential areas or on roads with no center divider. Musk added:
On roads without a center divider, where there’s potential for a more serious collision, it makes sense not to go more than five miles per hour above the speed limit.
The update, according to Musk, will be operational in around 60,000 vehicles, including the new Model X SUV and the Model S sedans.