Auto Tech

Tesla releases video showcasing traffic light and stop sign recognition

After providing access to a limited group of owners, every Tesla owner with the right hardware now has the latest features.

Tesla owners with the most recent Hardware 3 package and a fully optioned Autopilot system have a new feature to try out. The electric carmaker this weekend began pushing a new Autopilot update with Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control after the feature rolled out to a small group of owners earlier this year.

In the official video above, Tesla shows how the new function works, though in release notes, there are lots of asterisks to cover its capabilities.

It's a function Tesla's promised for a while now for those who paid $7,000 for the "Full Self-Driving Capability" package when ordering their car. With the feature, properly equipped Tesla cars will recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs. We saw one user trialing the system earlier this year, and it seemed to work without any major issue. Those with the feature will see new graphics to indicate the car recognizes a signal or stop sign and provides a red bar to show drivers where it will bring the car to a stop.

Tesla cautioned in the release notes, as quoted by Teslascope, that this feature will be "conservative" to start and "slow down often at first." It will not attempt to turn through any intersections. As with all Autopilot functions, Tesla stressed drivers must be ready to retake control at all times and explicitly warns in the notes that the feature, still in beta testing, "may not stop for all traffic controls." The company also said the car should detect all kinds of traffic signals, however, including flashing signals.

It's a neat trick to have the car slow down automatically, but with the need to consistently remain vigilant, Autopilot's highway functions are far more valuable -- at least to me personally. Looking into the near future, CEO Elon Musk maintains Tesla's robotaxi fleet will be "functionally ready" this year. This latest feature might be a small step towards more autonomy from Tesla features, but please remember, there are no self-driving cars on sale today.

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First published April 27.