The leader in autonomous driving released a first look at what 'driving' could look like in the near future. Tesla debuted this video showing everything its Model S sees when driving around.
The person sitting in the driver's seat, which Tesla says is only there for legal reasons, keeps his hands on his knees the entire time. There are a handful of points in the video where we'd probably want to take hold of the steering wheel ourselves. In the first minute, the oncoming traffic gets a little too close to the driver's side for our comfort. Yet everything continues fluidly without a hitch.
The computing and reads taken by the three cameras is incredible, however. Also, these autonomous drivers would save city-dwellers so much headache when parallel parking.
The video comes after recent issues with the Model S. In September, a 23-year-old man from China died while driving the Model S. Due to the impact, Tesla reported they couldn't tell if autopilot had been engaged before the crash. China's CCTV news agency hinted the Autopilot was on at the time of the crash. Tesla didn't address the issue on its website.
After this incident and other smaller scale wrecks, Tesla rebranded the Autopilot as more of an assistance system. The system would warn the driver to pay attention to the road, disabling the autodriver if the human didn't respond to the system.
There's also the murky waters of who takes legal responsibility should accidents occur while a vehicle drives in Autopilot. No automaker dealing with completely autonomous driver has yet to make a firm statement, saying each case would be different.
Moral issues have also been brought up recently, especially after Mercedes-Benz's exec Christoph von Hugo said the autopilot would save driver over pedestrian. The company's PR department quickly sent out a message en masse that von Hugo had been misquoted, and the company couldn't legally pick either driver or passenger.
Regardless Tesla's video seems to suggest the Autopilot stepped up its game and could fully take over sooner than we expected.