Mon, Oct 06, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Tesla joining automated-driving race

HANDS-FREE:In plans to add ‘autopilot’ features to its electric cars, the automaker said driving on highways without touching any controls will be possible by next year


Tesla Motors Inc will make its first foray toward automated driving, joining luxury rivals in offering high-tech features including one that can keep the car in its lane, said a person familiar with the carmaker’s plans.

The new capabilities will be revealed in an announcement scheduled for this week, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the details are not public.

Chief executive officer Elon Musk on Wednesday posted on Twitter that the electric car maker will “unveil the D and something else,” and included a photo of a darkly lit Tesla and the date Oct. 9.

Tesla, maker of the Model S luxury sedan, is adding electronic features that help drive the car, reducing the strain of traffic congestion.

The automaker is responding to the increasing use of such functions by rivals such as Volkswagen AG’s Audi and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, as well as more mass market manufacturers such as Honda Motor Co.

The automaker last month began installing cameras in the Model S, including a forward facing one behind the windshield, that will enable safety technology required by European regulators, company spokesman Simon Sproule said in an interview yesterday.

He declined to confirm the specific safety features ahead of Tesla’s announcement.

“We started installing camera hardware from September in support of European” safety regulations, Sproule said.

Automakers are increasingly competing on automated driver assistance features, which are seen as a stepping stone to self-driving vehicles and require more sensors and computing power in vehicles.

More cars are parking themselves, telling their drivers when they are drifting out of the lane or when there is another vehicle in the blind spot, and automatically maintaining a safe distance from the car in front when driving in stop-and-go traffic.

Musk in June said Tesla was advancing plans to add self-driving, or “autopilot” features, to its electric cars.

By next year, “you’ll be able to go from highway on-ramp to highway exit without touching any controls,” he said.

Chipmaker Nvidia Corp has supplied Tesla with processors for current versions of the Model S, which features a 17-inch touch screen used for information and entertainment in its dashboard.

It also provides in-vehicle information and entertainment technology to Honda and other automakers.

Attached to Wednesday’s post was a picture of an obscured garage door marked as “D,” lifted enough to show the contours of a vehicle inside.

Besides the Model S, the Palo Alto, California-based electric-car company has announced plans to begin selling the Model X sports utility vehicle next year and the Model 3, a smaller, more affordable premium sedan, by 2017.

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