Tesla’s latest software update rolls back a change it implemented only recently, removing a hard cap on Autopilot on undivided roadways that meant drivers could not set the cruising speed above the posted limit for the road. The limit enforcement changed from a previous cap at 5 mph above the legally defined ceiling, and it was a tweak that was greeted with dismay by a number of Tesla owners.
The reversion of the rule was noted by a user on Twitter (via Electrek), and confirmed by Elon Musk himself, as well as other Tesla owners who went through with the update and found the limit removed on their vehicles’ Autopilot systems, too.
The decision to roll back this particular feature will probably go over well with Tesla owners – reaction seemed primarily against the move to begin with, at least on social media. Tesla drivers seem to believe on balance that in this case at least, they should be trusted to use the Autopilot features responsibly.
It’s also true that not allowing a little leeway above the limit could actually make Autopilot software more dangerous, since in general the pace of traffic tends to not adhere exactly to the posted roadway speed. Other software features, including alerts and system disabling when Autopilot determines a human driver should take over, probably contribute more to safety than a strictly capped speed limit.
This is representative of the challenges Tesla faces in bringing further autonomy to market, however – they’ll always have to balance user experience and customer satisfaction with safety concerns, and it’s very interesting to see how they continue to negotiate that line.