Tesla Motors announced that it will be rolling out a new software update starting today as part of its plans to deliver self-driving cars.
The update, which will be available to newer Tesla vehicles such as the Model S and the Model X SUV, features a beta version of an autopilot mode, according to PC Mag.
However, this doesn't mean that owners of new Tesla cars will be able to take their hands off the wheel after getting update 7.0. Company CEO Elon Musk noted that since the software upgrade is still in its beta stage, drivers should still be careful and mindful of the road when using the autopilot mode.
The executive said that over time, the autopilot functions of the update will improve as it learns from the drivers. For now, the feature can handle lane changing, steering down the highway and adjusting the car's speed depending on traffic conditions, BBC reported.
It relies on the vehicle's various cameras and sensors that scan the car's surroundings, lane markings on the road, weather conditions and map directions.
However, the update still lacks the necessary capabilities to respond to stop signs and traffic lights, which means drivers will still have to take control of their cars when they encounter these.
According to Musk, the autopilot feature is one of Tesla Motors' major steps in delivering an autonomous vehicle to consumers.
"We tell drivers to keep their hands on the wheel just in case, to exercise caution in the beginning," Musk said during a press event. "Over time, long term, you won't keep your hands on the wheel - we explicitly describe this as beta."
But even if Tesla Motors is able to produce self-driving cars, the company and others like it such as Google, will have to deal with regulations in various states that requires drivers to keep at least one hand on the wheel.
Of course, this goes against the concept of an autonomous vehicle since drivers will no longer have to touch the wheel if the car is fully capable of driving itself.
For Musk, law-makers should learn to accept the latest technological trend and understand its reliability.
"Regulators need to see clear evidence that the reliability is there," he said according to Wired. "It works almost to the point where you can take your hands off. But we won't say that. Almost."
The roll out of update 7.0 in North America will be conducted in stages and may take a couple of months before reaching all Model S and Model X owners.