unveils all-wheel drive Model S, 'autopilot' features
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[October 11, 2014]
By Nichola Groom
HAWTHORNE Calif. (Reuters) - Tesla Motors
Inc on Thursday took its first step toward automated driving, unveiling
features that will allow its electric sedan to park itself and sense
The company also said it will roll out an all-wheel drive option of
the Model S sedan that can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2
seconds yet doesn't compromise the vehicle's efficiency.
The car is like having a "personal roller coaster," Tesla CEO Elon
Musk joked after making the announcement at the packed event in
Tesla's announcement had been eagerly anticipated since Musk last
week tweeted that it was "about time to unveil the D and something
Onstage on Thursday, Musk said "D" stands for "dual motor," meaning
Tesla's all-wheel drive vehicle will have a motor at either end of
the chassis to increase control.
In addition, Musk said that the Model S cars that are rolling off
the line today already have the hardware for what he called
"autopilot." The features include a long-range radar, image
recognition so the vehicle can "see" things like stop signs and
pedestrians, and a 360-degree ultrasonic sonar.
The car can park itself in a garage, turn on the air conditioning in
advance of a trip and recognize obstacles on the road. He cautioned,
however, that "autopilot" was not fully autonomous driving and would
not allow a driver to fall asleep at the wheel.
The new features will give Tesla momentum while consumers wait for
the launch of its third vehicle, the crossover SUV Model X, next
year, said one industry analyst.
"Until the Model X arrives, a vehicle that will substantially
amplify Tesla's appeal and volume potential, these upgrades should
keep the Model S at the forefront of advanced personal
transportation," said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue
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Automakers are racing to develop such features as cars that apply
brakes automatically when they sense an impending collision or slow
down because a vehicle ahead on the highway has warned that traffic
has stopped. However, the automakers say the transition will be
evolutionary, with such features added slowly over many years as new
models are rolled out. Meanwhile, Internet search company Google Inc
is developing the technology for a completely driverless car.
General Motors Co said last month that its Cadillac brand will
introduce a car in 2016 that communicates with other vehicles and
will also introduce a vehicle that incorporates semi-automated
hands-free driving technology.
(Reporting by Nicola Groom in Los Angeles and Supriya Kurane in
Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)
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