Did the future just arrive on the world's roads and we didn't even notice? Cult electric car maker Tesla said last night that it's about to push an update to 60,000 of its Model S vehicles which will allow them to autonomously park (including finding a parking spot) and change lanes.
Elon Musk, the company's founder, said the new "Autopilot" capability is likely to be "quite a profound experience for people".
The new software uses radar and camera equipment already installed on the cars, including with "long-range ultrasonic sensors positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction at all speeds", as well as a "high-precision, digitally controlled electric assist braking system". Yep – the car could already brake on its own.
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. Your car can also scan for a parking space, alert you when one is available, and parallel park on command.
The company added that the feature "relieves drivers of the most tedious and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel".
There's only one catch: Musk also warned drivers that, "at this early stage", the company is being "especially cautious".
"We're advising drivers to keep their hands on the wheel just in case." The future may be here – but for now, humans are still more reliable…