Two weeks ago, a person on Twitter asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk to bring back the Enhanced Autopilot package as a sort of middle ground between standard Autopilot and the “Full Self-Driving” package. Musk responded with “OK,” and now, it’s back.
Don’t forget that, despite the name of Tesla’s feature, there are no self-driving cars on sale today.
Tesla this week reintroduced the Enhanced Autopilot package for its electric cars. This optional upgrade, which will cost $6,000, builds upon the standard Autopilot driver-assistance suite by adding automatic lane changes, automatic parking assist and automated vehicle retrieval (also known as Summon and Smart Summon). It also includes Navigate on Autopilot, which combines various driver assists to help control the vehicle from on-ramp to off-ramp.
Tesla has reshuffled its driver aids a number of times. Enhanced Autopilot used to function as the precursor to the “Full Self-Driving” option, which picked up most of its features when the mid-level offering was eventually dropped, with the rest going to basic Autopilot. The “Full Self-Driving” option remains, and it’s still $12,000, but its complement of features has been dramatically reduced. Now, on Tesla’s site, it says the package offers “traffic light and stop sign control” in addition to what Enhanced Autopilot offers, and in the future, it hopes to add automated steering on city streets.
Now, let’s throw out a couple disclaimers here. Like Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot is a system that requires the driver to give their full attention to the road during its operation. Handsfree does not mean brain-free. Even “Full Self-Driving,” which is still in beta, requires owners to be cognizant of their surroundings at all times in case the driver needs to retake control at a moment’s notice. No car currently offered for sale can be referred to as self-driving.
Tesla does not operate a public relations team and thus could not be reached for comment.
Tesla’s suite of driver-assistance features has put the company in the spotlight recently, and not in the most ideal ways. In early June, NHTSA asked Tesla to respond to a series of questions regarding reports of phantom braking on Autopilot-equipped vehicles, where the cars may engage the brakes apropos of nothing. One week later, NHTSA expanded its probe into crashes where Autopilot was involved to cover some 830,000 vehicles.