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Self-parking software beamed to Tesla drivers


UPDATED: Some Tesla Motors vehicles can park themselves without a driver inside with a software update beamed to customers.

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The update also puts new speed limits on Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot mode and makes several enhancements, including automatically slowing when the car is approaching a curve and keeping the car in its lane even when the lane markings are faded.

CEO Elon Musk says the parking feature is a “baby step” toward his eventual goal of letting drivers summon their self-driving, self-charging cars from anywhere using their phones.

“I actually think, and I might be slightly optimistic on this, within two years you’ll be able to summon your car from across the country,” Musk said on a conference call with reporters.


Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan in a Tesla car, with the capacity to drive autonomously. Supplied image

Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan in a Tesla car, with the capacity to drive autonomously. Image: Supplied

“This is the first little step in that direction.”

For now, though, the system isn’t truly autonomous.

“It’s more like remote-control parking,” Musk said.

Owners must line up their Model S sedan or Model X SUV within 10 metres of the space they want it to drive or back into.

They must then stand within three metres and direct the car to park itself using the key fob or Tesla’s smartphone app.

The car can also exit the spot when the driver summons it and if it’s going into a home garage, it can also open and close the garage door.

Tesla says the system is helpful for tight parking spots, but cautions that it should only be used on private property since it can’t detect every potential obstacle.

The software update also puts new speed limits on Tesla’s semi-autonomous mode.

The car will now only drive at or slightly above the speed limit when the autopilot mode is being used on residential roads and on roads without a centre divider.

If the car enters such an area in autopilot mode, it will automatically slow down.

Musk says he’s not aware of any accidents caused when a Tesla was driving in autopilot mode, but he thinks the change won’t be a problem for owners.

The updates will go into about 60,000 vehicles, including Model S sedans made after September 2014 and the new Model X SUV.


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