Tesla says that it has updated its Autopilot software to decelerate when it detects the lights of emergency vehicles at night.
In an update to its Model 3 and Model Y owners manual coming with the 2021.24.12 software update, Tesla added latest language concerning the capability (first spotted by @Analytic_ETH on Twitter):
“If Model3/ModelY detects lights from an emergency vehicle when using Autosteer at night on a high speed road, the driving speed is robotically reduced and the touchscreen displays a message informing you of the slowdown. You may even hear a chime and see a reminder to maintain your hands on the steering wheel. When the sunshine detections pass by or stop to look, Autopilot resumes your cruising speed. Alternatively, you could tap the accelerator to resume your cruising speed.”
Interestingly, Tesla specifies that this latest capability works specifically “at night.”
The automaker also adds this necessary warning:
“Never rely on Autopilot features to find out the presence of emergency vehicles. Model3/ModelY may not detect lights from emergency vehicles in all situations. Keep your eyes in your driving path and all the time be prepared to take immediate motion.”
The brand new language about Tesla Autopilot’s latest capability was added after the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced last month that it’s opening an investigation into Tesla Autopilot over its possible involvement in 11 crashes with emergency and first responder vehicles.
I don’t think the 2 are necessarily related as I’ve discussed my suspicion that NHTSA’s investigation is misguided.
They deal with crashes with emergency vehicles on the side of the road, but Tesla Autopilot has had issues with stopping for a nonmoving object on the highway no matter whether or not it’s an emergency vehicle.
It just so happens that vehicles stopped on the highway are sometimes emergency vehicles.
I believe this update is more about Tesla attempting to introduce some automated driving behavior around emergency vehicles with their lights on, which is something they will must do in the event that they want to realize “Full Self-Driving” capabilities.