While we all wait on those elusive flying cars, automakers are busy trying to deliver self-driving cars. Fully autonomous cars aren’t here just yet, but features like Tesla’s Autopilot are the first steps. Tesla just took another step forward to that autonomous future with the addition of Navigate to its Autopilot technology.
The existing version of Autopilot keeps the car in its lane following the curves and bends in the road. It also makes lane changes when the driver activates the turn signal and then resumes following the road in the new lane.
This isn’t fully autonomous driving and still requires a human in the driver’s seat. In fact, you have to keep your hands on the wheel even when Autopilot is engaged and the system will call you out if your don’t follow the rules.
According to Tesla, its owners have driven tens of millions of miles using Enhanced Autopilot providing data for Tesla to analyze and improve the system. The latest improvement is Navigate on Autopilot, which adds the ability to use navigation with the Autopilot system.
Drivers first have to enable both Navigate on Autopilot and Autosteer in the settings menu, so this isn’t something that will just suddenly start working without any warning. When activated, the system will guide the car to follow the navigation directions including off-ramps, lane changes to stay on route, and lane changes to keep your car as close as possible to your set speed.
Initially, drivers will need to confirm lane changes with the turn signal stalk before the car will make the change. Tesla says future versions will eliminate the need to confirm the lane change if the driver chooses.
There are customizable settings for this new feature that cater to each driver’s level of comfort with autonomous technology with a choice of four speed-based lane change settings. Choose mild, average, Mad Max, or disable it entirely. Mild will only suggest a lane change when the traffic in your lane is much slower that the vehicle’s set speed. Mad Max will suggest a lane change even when traffic in front is only slightly slower.
Navigate on Autopilot is available now only on vehicles equipped with Enhanced Autopilot and rolled out on October 26.