Tesla pushed out a new over-the-air software update with two new safety features designed to help prevent drivers from inadvertently departing their lane, which is a common cause of accidents when Autopilot is not in use.
These new features – Lane Departure Avoidance and Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance – help drivers stay engaged and in their lane in order to avoid collisions.
Tesla is introducing these new safety features starting with Model 3 owners and gradually expanding to all cars that were built after October 2016.
Lane Departure Avoidance
Lane Departure Avoidance lets a driver elect to have corrective steering applied in order to keep them in their intended lane. When the feature is in use and a driver is departing a lane without their turn signal on, the car will also check to see whether a driver’s hands are on the wheel.
If a driver’s hands are not detected on the wheel, the driver will receive a series of hands-on reminders and alerts, similar to the ones that Tesla cars provide to customers who use Autopilot. If a driver’s hands are repeatedly not detected on the wheel when Traffic Aware Cruise Control is in use, their car will gradually slow down to 15 miles below the speed limit or below the car’s set speed and turn its hazard lights on.
This feature can be turned on or off, and works at speeds between 25 and 90 mph. It is an extension of Lane Departure Warning, which already warns drivers through a steering wheel vibration if they begin to drift out of their lane without their turn signal engaged.
Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance
Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance is designed to steer a Tesla vehicle back into the driving lane if the system detects that it is departing its lane and there could be a collision, or if the car is close to the edge of the road. This feature will automatically be enabled at the beginning of every drive, but can be turned off for a single drive by going to the Autopilot Controls menu.