Auto Tech

Tesla's Autopilot now recognizes traffic signals

Video shows the partially automated system stop for a red light for the first time as some owners receive early access to the "full-self-driving" update.

The feature still always requires the driver's full attention.

Tesla's plant in Fremont, California, may be idle amid the coronavirus outbreak, but the team is still hard at work on new features. And now it seems a promised feature for owners is nearing completion.

Video surfaced on Twitter on Thursday evening of Tesla's Autopilot stopping for a red light at an intersection for the first time. Tesla has long promised the feature for those who paid the $7,000 upgrade for the "Full Self-Driving Capability" package, and it was supposed to reach owners this past December. Instead, the electric carmaker pushed a preview of the features.

With the video, however, it appears Tesla's closer to rolling the feature out en masse to owners with the applicable package. This owner is part of what Tesla previously called its "early access fleet," a group of owners who beta test new software from the automaker.

From what I can see, it works pretty well in this instance, though it'll take a lot more testing to show it's foolproof in every situation. The video first shows the Tesla Model 3 stopped at a red light and then recognizes the signal's change from red to green. Some graphics also identify cars to the side and in front of the Model 3, and when the system detects a new red light, a red bar shows up on the screen to show where the car will stop. No quirks on display here, but like I said, we'll need to wait and see.

Autopilot has repeatedly come under fire from safety bodies and federal agencies for overselling its features, so as always, this update still requires the driver's hands on the wheel and their full attention. Autopilot does not turn a Tesla into a full self-driving car, and neither will the "Full Self-Driving" option. What this technology can do is provide another technological comfort for drivers who use the system appropriately.

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