The phrasing here is key.
Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced at the company's annual shareholder meeting that the upcoming Tesla Roadster will have a "SpaceX option package", saying that it will push the company's all-electric supercar's previously mentioned base specs to a whole new level. What's more, Tesla claims that the auto will have a range of 620 miles. Previous updates to Autopilot were "rightly focused entirely on safety", he said. 8 seconds prior to the crash, the Tesla was following a lead vehicle and was traveling about 65 miles per hour, before it began a left steering motion.
The Tesla founder made the disclosure in a Twitter conversation, responding to a user who complained about issues with Autopilot, which is now considered semi-autonomous with the requirement that a motorist be at the wheel at all times.
Setting a firm date for the start of the self-driving rollout suggests Musk remains very confident in his tech-but his careful phrasing in the offhand tweet leaves a huge escape clause.
Customers can pay $5,000 for Autopilot lane-keeping and lane-changing capabilities or fork out $3,000 more for full self-driving capability, which the company sold before it was available.
The company promises to take passengers - not drivers, in this case - to their destination of choice without any human input.
While the company has repeatedly pointed to human error in these cases, the "Autopilot" branding has left some drivers confused about the capabilities of the software, which is still now more of an "assist" feature than a a fully autonomous driver/navigator.
A consumer advocacy group on Friday urged Tesla to fix what it termed as "flaws" in Autopilot after a preliminary government report said a Model X driver did not have his hands on the vehicle's steering wheel in the final six seconds before a fatal crash on March 23. Continually touting further self-driving "features", without actually activating full autonomy-even while reducing the intensity of Autopilot attention reminders-might be inviting more of the same.
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