Chief executive Elon Musk says drivers still liable in collisions - for now


Electric car pioneer Tesla has launched a software release that upgrades its cars to Autopilot mode.

Though not yet completely driverless, the new Tesla Autopilot will allow Model S Tesla cars to steer within a lane, change lanes with the tap of a turn signal, manage the car’s speed using active, traffic-aware cruise control, and parallel park on command.

Digital control of motors, brakes, and steering helps avoid collisions from the front and sides, as well as preventing the car from wandering off the road, Tesla said.

“While truly driverless cars are still a few years away, Tesla Autopilot functions like the systems that airplane pilots use when conditions are clear,” Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said, launching the new software in the US.

Musk said drivers should exercise caution when using Autopilot.

“It should not hit pedestrians, hopefully,” he said at the launch. “It should handle them well.”

And he said that if the car is involved in a collision, the driver is still liable.

“The driver cannot abdicate responsibility. That will come at some point in the future.”

Other regions of the world will be updated in the next couple of weeks pending regulatory approval, Tesla said.