Tesla makes it easier to access self-driving features

The US automaker promised a full self-driving (FSD) subscription to be ready for 2020 but a recent tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggests it can now be expected early next year. In the US, FSD costs an extra $10,000 on top of the vehicle. A subscription could open this up this feature to people who lease their vehicles.

Musk made it clear that buying the FSD package would be the best option financially and suggested there could be the option to transfer ownership of the package to another car if the driver were to upgrade.

This announcement comes at the same time as a UK proposal concerning accidents involving self-driving cars. The United Kingdom Law Commission suggests that “drivers” in an autonomous vehicle shouldn’t be held liable for accidents when the software makes an error.

There has long been an argument over who is liable in case of an incident on the road. Is the person who is in charge of the car responsible or is it the car itself? This new proposal says that under the law, the user would not be prosecuted for careless driving, running red lights, or speeding while the car is in self-driving mode.

The responsibility will, instead, fall on the developer or manufacturer of the hardware that enables a car’s self-driving functions.

The proposal also stipulates that drivers would have between 10 and 40 seconds to regain control of the car once it starts to behave in an unsafe way  —  in that timeframe, they would not be liable. This means that the proposal is aimed more at semi-autonomous capabilities, like Tesla’s Autopilot, rather than fully autonomous vehicles where the driver doesn’t need any input.

There are a number of levels of self-driving cars. Level 2 means a driver has to be in control at all times, even if the car is doing most of the heavy lifting. Level 3 allows a driver to take their eyes off the road in very specific situations, such as on the motorway. In Level 4 vehicles, the car is fully autonomous but only in specific geofenced locations. The holy grail is Level 5, which is a vehicle that’s fully autonomous in all situations. 

Jess Shanahan

Author:Jess Shanahan
Date Updated:21st Dec 2020

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