When it comes to pushing electric vehicle innovation, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is not one to rest on his laurels. Indeed, his recent announcement of the new Model S sedan (often dubbed the “Model D”), was filled with enough cutting-edge technological specs to have EV enthusiasts drooling.
One of the most talked about features of the new Tesla Model D is its capacity for nearly full automation. The new Tesla will be able to change lanes by itself, break on its own, and adjust speeds according to street signs.
In a particularly eye-opening demonstration of a prototype Model D, the car accelerated from 0-60mph in 3 seconds and safely changed lanes at the push of the turn signal. Other features discussed were the car parking itself, and driving short distance to pick you up.
Musk has stated he would like future Teslas to be capable of 90% automation over the coming years.
However, it’s important to note that having the “capacity” for automation and being “legally allowed” to automate are two different things. Currently regulations still prohibit most automated features. For instance, in order to test out its self-driving cars, Audi had to apply for special permits. Therefore, self-driving vehicles will still be the exception rather than the norm until the necessary legal regulations are sorted out (i.e. who is at fault when a self-driving vehicle gets in an accident?)
Musk acknowledges that the new Tesla’s automated features will be used more for “user assistance” than full automation – tracking the vehicle’s blind spot, informing the driver of otherwise unseen objects on the road, etc. But when the time does come for self-driving cars, Tesla will be well on its way from a technological point of view.
Of course, one shouldn’t forget the real reason the new Tesla sedan is referred to as the Model D: its use of dual motor all-wheel drive. In terms of performance, the new Tesla will be at the top of its class. The car will be slightly faster, go a further distance on a charge, and handle better.
Therefore, the new Model D will still boast excellent functionality, even if its automated features aren’t fully online yet.