Tesla, in one of its latest Autopilot Updates added Stop Light Recognition feature to the Model 3. Now, when a Model 3 in Autopilot comes across a red light (stop light), the car issues a certain warning to the driver.
Recognition of traffic lights are not entirely a new concept for Tesla cars. The ability to detect stop lights have always been there. However, it is not until now that the recognition has been enabled on Autopilot, a report from Clean Technicia said.
Prior to the update, despite the presence of a stop light, Tesla’s cars on Autopilot would have continued moving on its usual course at a restricted speed as configured for Auto steer.
This a major step of advancement for the Tesla Autopilot. Now that this feature has been enabled. the drivers need not switch to the manual mode every time they drive across a signal – they just need to keep a watch for the warning. Earlier this year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had made a statement that Tesla cars will have full Self-Driving Capability by the end of this year. Hence, this major upgrade could be seen as a step towards the same.
Tesla also added that though the update recognizes stop signals, the Autopilot is not yet a full replacement for the human driver. The driver still needs to be alert and attentive while the car is in Autopilot.
Considering the fact that Tesla’s cars are one of the commercially available vehicles with the Self-Driving Feature, we think that this major upgrade should have been rolled out much earlier. Other Self-Driving Technology Companies, Waymo, for example already has the capability to understand and interpret traffic signals and maneuver accordingly. There were also recent reports that Waymo’s cars were able to successfully follow a traffic police officer’s hand signals in order to pass across a broken traffic signal.
According to a statistical data from the United States Access Board, there are around 300,000 traffic lights in the country. The distribution is such that there should be at least one signal per 1000 population. Hence, apart from some parts of the freeways and highways, most of the roads/junctions in the U.S are monitored by Traffic Signals. Similar numbers apply on a global scale as well. The widespread presence of signals necessitates the understanding and recognition of traffic signals by Self-Driving Cars in order to reduce or nullify manual inputs while driving.
Now that Tesla has added Traffic Light Recognition, we can expect such major game-changer updates to the Autopilot in future as the technology moves towards Full Self-Driving Capability.