If there ever was a day when I was completely intimidated by technology, it's today. As of today, Tesla Motors Model S sedans will be able to steer and park themselves under certain conditions, but it's not the fact that the car is autonomous that's freaking me out.
It's the fact that the feature was rolled out over-the-air, via software patch. Just imagine, one moment the car is nothing but a mindless machine, the next – it drives on its own. What's even more amazing (and shocking and frightening at the same time) is that these cars are interconnected, learning from each others' experiences, also without ever seeing each other.
"The whole Tesla fleet acts like a network. When one car learns something they all learn it," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said. "As ... more people enable autopilot, the information about how to drive is uploaded to the network. Each driver is effectively an expert trainer in how the autopilot should work."
New "autopilot" features, designed for cars built after September 2014, will be available for customers in the United States, Tesla said. European and Asian owners must wait another week, Reuters reported (opens in new tab).
Musk cautioned that autopilot functionality was in beta mode and full "hands-off" driving was not recommended.
"We're being especially cautious at this stage so we're advising drivers to keep their hands on the wheel just in case," Musk told reporters at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters. "Over time there will not be a need to have your hands on the wheel."