After much build-up, Tesla has finally rolled out their Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control feature to the general public. We looked at this feature in early access last week. It allows Teslas with the Hardware 3 package and Full Self-Driving upgrade to stop autonomously at stop signs and stoplights. But it certainly has it’s limitations.
Definitely still in beta
Just like when they rolled out highway navigation on autopilot, Tesla is being very careful about rolling out this feature. The feature is very conservative, requiring the driver to give the car permission to proceed through every intersection. Black Tesla made a great review of this new update with some impressive footage of the feature in action.
When the car approaches a traffic light or stop sign it will display a red line on the ground where the car will stop, even if the light is green. By pressing the accelerator or tapping the gear shift the car will proceed through the intersection.
While that sounds incredible, there’s one thing that holds back this feature in its current state. It can’t turn through intersections. This greatly limits the situations where this feature could be useful.
There are also many situations that seem to confuse autopilot. Black Tesla demonstrated that in some situations it’s possible to give the Tesla permission to proceed through a red light, and it will drive through the intersection. From the leaked manual we read last week this does not seem to be intended behavior. We hope Tesla can fix this safety issue very quickly.
Some signage or flashing lights could lead to false positives, forcing you to tell the car to proceed through an imaginary intersection. For many drivers just driving themselves would be more convenient than giving the car permission to proceed through every single intersection in a packed city.
An amazing first step
But maybe that’s looking at things wrong. Everyone bashed the limitations of highway navigation on autopilot when that came out. But now thousands of drivers with long highway commutes enjoy a less stressful drive, unconcerned that the car can’t drive itself in the city.
We all want feature-complete Full Self-Driving. And Tesla’s ambitious timelines can make this seemingly slow progress frustrating. But this does expand the number of people who autopilot is useful for. If your commute has interspersed traffic lights over a long, straight road then this feature will make driving a lot more convenient.
And as Tesla is able to collect more real-world driving data the feature will improve. Eventually, they’ll be able to remove the requirement for permission to proceed through an intersection. Some day they’ll even be able to turn, and the majority of your commute will be able to be done on autopilot. Elon said that after the autopilot core rewrite new features would come quickly, we’ll just have to see how quick he means.
Until then though, those who can take advantage of this feature will love it. But in situations where you can drive better than your car, you probably should still be the one driving.
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