Move over Google, Tesla is one step closer to bringing driverless cars to an intersection near you.
On Thursday, Tesla rolled out a new version of its software, and with it came an autopilot features that allow the car to stay in its lane, change lanes, and parallel park all by itself. Whoa. The updated Model S is not entirely autonomous—you still have to keep your hands on the wheel—but the new feature makes driverless cars seems a whole lot lot closer than before.
The new feature, called Autosteer, is designed to keep the car in its lane while driving on the freeway. When you need to change lanes, just flip your turn signal and the car will move over on its own when it’s safe. Again, whoa.
But don't think this means you can start texting and driving: If you take your hands off the wheel for more than a few seconds, the car will first warn you, and then start to slow down until it comes to a complete stop. Not good, especially when you're busy commuting across a bridge or cruising down Market Street. You can turn off Autosteer by simply pressing the brake pedal.
"We say keep your hands on the wheel because it’s very important to exercise caution at this early stage," CEO Elon Musk emphasized during a press conference. "This version also doesn’t take into account stop signs and stop lights, but a future version will."
Eventually, the company hopes that drivers will indeed be able to participate in hands-free driving— because there won't be a steering wheel at all. One thing the car can already do with this update: park itself. Once you arrive at your destination, let your car do all the work squeezing into that parallel-parking space. You deserve a break.