Properly equipped Tesla cars can now recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs thanks to a software update that the company began distributing to owners over the weekend.
A software update was available to a small number of Tesla owners, some of whom posted a video about new features. Now the automaker is promoting a software update (2020.12.6) for a wider fleet.
This feature is not available on all Tesla vehicles on the road. Vehicles must be equipped with the latest Hardware 3 package and the fully optional Autopilot package, which the company positions as “fully independent driving.”
A feature called Traffic Light and Stop Light Control is designed to enable cars to recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs.
To be clear, Tesla vehicles are not self-driving, and this feature has its limitations. This feature slows down properly equipped Tesla vehicles to a halt when using “traffic-based cruise control” or “Autosteer”. In accordance with the software release notes, the car will slow down at all detected traffic lights, including green, flashing yellow and off lights.
When the vehicle approaches an intersection, the notification will indicate an intention to slow down. Then the car will start to slow down and stop at the red line shown in the driving visualization, which is on the central display.
DragTimes tested and published a video about the beta version of the function (published below).
Owners must press the autopilot lever once or manually press the accelerator pedal to continue driving through the stop line. Tesla said that this function at first glance should be conservative. Owners will notice that it will often slow down and will not try to turn through intersections. “Over time, as we learn from the park, this function will become more natural,” the company writes in the release notes.
In the release notes, Tesla warns that “as with all autopilot functions, you must continue to pay attention and be prepared for immediate action, including braking, as this function may not stop for all motion controls.”
The software update also improved the visualization of driving that is displayed in the car. Additional objects such as brake lights stop signs and road marking options are now displayed on the screen. Tesla says in the release notes: visualization of the Stop and Stop-light signs will not replace an attentive driver and will not stop the car.