Last month, Tesla started pushing a new update to make Autopilot follow the speed limit on the road more closely. The move, which restricted the Autopilot to the speed limit on roads and non-divided highways, angered some owners who claimed it rendered the system useless on those roads.
Tesla now started pushing a new update this week to partly roll back those restrictions.
Owners of Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot had been able to set the speed of the Autopilot’s ‘Traffic-Aware Cruise Control’ feature to up to 5 mph over the speed limit on roads and non-divided highways when using Autosteer up until last month when the new restrictions took that away.
The new software update (126.96.36.199.22), which started to be rolled out to owners this week, brought back this feature.
The Autopilot was first introduced for highway driving, but Tesla allowed drivers to activate it on almost all road types at launch. Tesla quickly started to push new Autopilot restrictions after Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned of upcoming constraints to limit some potentially dangerous use of the Autopilot as seen in videos posted online.
Tesla has since been trying to walk the line between safety restrictions to encourage a proper use of the Autopilot and leaving functionalities to those who can use them properly, but it looks like a classic case of a few bad apples ruining it for the rest of the drivers.
The latest restrictions were clearly a step too far for some owners, but at least Tesla was able to walk it back.
The update also had new safety controls to reduce the risk of accidents on Autopilot and encourage drivers to take controls in driving environments where the Autopilot is not the most useful – like undivided roads.
Tesla didn’t stop at speed limits with the latest update. It could also reduce it further until the driver takes control if, for example, it detects heavy traffic in an adjacent lane. The system can see that as an increased risk and while it is still able to steer automatically safely, it would be safer to slow down or have the driver take over.
Over two years after introducing the first Autopilot hardware (Oct 2014) and over a year after the first Autopilot software update (Oct 2015), Tesla is still tuning the program as it launches the second generation of the system.