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Autopilot now lets Tesla vehicles identify traffic lights and stop signs

Updated Apr 28th, 2020 8:05AM EDT
Tesla Autopilot Update
Image: TierneyMJ/Shutterstock

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  • Tesla recently released a new software update which enables Tesla vehicles to identify traffic lights and stop signs and react accordingly.
  • Tesla notes that the feature will operate conservatively at first.
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Tesla’s Autopilot feature is certainly an incredible technical achievement and a compelling feature, but there’s no denying that the feature still has a lot of room for improvement. Tesla, however, remains committed to continuously updating its Autopilot software and making it as reliable and safe as it can possibly be.

Most recently, Tesla rolled out a software update that enables eligible Tesla vehicles with the right Autopilot package to identify traffic lights and stop signs and respond accordingly. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because Tesla started rolling the feature out a while back, with a few videos demonstrating the new software in action making their way onto YouTube.

The feature is naturally called Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control, and Tesla describes it as follows:

Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control is designed to recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs, slowing your car to a stop when using Traffic-Aware Cruise Control or Autosteer. This feature will slow the car for all detected traffic lights, including green, blinking yellow, and off lights. As your car approaches an intersection, your car will indicate the intention to slow down via a notification, slow down, and stop at the red line shown on the driving visualization.

To continue through the stop line, push down the gear selector once or briefly press the accelerator pedal to confirm that it is safe to proceed. As with all Autopilot features, you must continue to pay attention and be ready to take immediate action, including braking because this feature may not stop for all traffic controls. This feature will be conservative, slow down often at first, and will not attempt to turn through intersections. Over time, as we learn from the fleet, the feature will control more naturally.

To enable, shift your car into PARK and tap Controls > Autopilot > Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control (Beta).

It’s encouraging to see Tesla note that the feature will be conservative at first. Over the past few years, Tesla has been a little bit too aggressive in rolling out new Autopilot features without taking safety into full consideration. Typically, Tesla creates new safety frameworks in response to misuse or highly publicized accidents. That said, it seems that Tesla has learned a thing or two from previous missteps.

A first-impression video which showcases the new feature in action can be seen below:

The new update aside, Tesla certainly has ambitious plans for future Autopilot updates. Last week, for instance, Elon Musk said Tesla is working on a feature called Reverse Summon that will enable a Tesla vehicle to drop off the driver at, say a shopping mall, and then find a parking spot on its own.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.