We’re living in the future. Self-driving cars aren’t just a far-off idea anymore, they’re a reality and they’re on the streets around us right now. Google has had fully autonomous cars on the road for years, though they remain in the testing phase and aren’t yet available to the public. In that regard, Tesla will take the lead once again following its announcement on Wednesday evening that every new Tesla car will ship with a hardware and software package that enables fully autonomous driving. If you thought the company’s current Autopilot solution was impressive, just wait until you see the demo video Elon Musk & Co. released on Wednesday night.
In the video embedded below, you’ll see a person in a Tesla Model X driving on the highway in California. You’ll see the car exit the highway and navigate the streets of Palo Alto. You’ll see it stop at intersections and turn from one street to another. Then you’ll see it arrive at Tesla’s headquarters and drive around the parking lot for a bit before finding an open spot and parallel parking into that spot.
None of that sounds out of the ordinary for a morning commute… until you consider that at no point in time did the person in the driver’s seat touch the steering wheel, the gas pedal, or the brake. The vehicle is equipped with Tesla’s brand new fully autonomous driving package, and the human driver was in the car only because vehicles are legally required to have someone sitting in the driver’s seat. For now.
One last note before you watch this impressive video: you’ll notice at one point the car passes an empty parking space but doesn’t park there. Why? As Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained, “when searching for parking, the car reads the signs to see if it is allowed to park there, which is why it skipped the disabled spot.”
The full demo video is embedded below.