Tesla’s new Model S and Model X vehicles are equipped with what the company calls Hardware 2—a more robust suite of sensors, cameras, and radar and software that will enable them to (eventually) drive autonomously—without human intervention.
Tesla customers can now order either "Enhanced Autopilot" or "Full Self-Driving Capability," when they buy a new car. Vehicles with this the full self-driving ability will have eight cameras (not the standard four), ultrasonic sensors, radar, and a supercomputer capable of processing data 40 times faster than previously.
Investigators found that Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40% after Autosteer—one component of the Autopilot system—became available. The investigation analyzed model year 2014 through 2016 Model S and 2016 Model X vehicles equipped with Autopilot. The crash rates compare airbag deployment crashes before and after Autosteer installation. Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system that actually includes a number of features such as traffic-aware cruise control (TACC) and Autosteer.
Autosteer uses information from the forward-looking camera, the radar sensor, and the ultrasonic sensors, to detect lane markings as well as the presence of vehicles and objects. The aim is to automatically keep Tesla vehicles within the lane.
Tesla's design included a hands-on the steering wheel system for monitoring driver engagement, the report says. Tesla has since added another layer of safety to the system by instituting a "strike out" strategy. Drivers that do not respond to visual cues in the driver monitoring system alerts may lose Autopilot function for the remainder of the drive cycle.
With the rise of autonomy in vehicles, the job of a designer just became more important than ever.