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Tesla makes changes to encourage motorists to use Autopilot properly

Tesla could restrict some of the features that make up Autopilot, its suite of electronic driving aids, in a bid to encourage motorists to use them properly. The news comes in the wake of several accidents across the nation and abroad in which Autopilot wasn’t being used as it was designed.

The safety restrictions will allegedly be programmed into the updated Autopilot version 8.0 that’s expected to come out in the next few weeks, website Electrek has learned. The software will continue to emit audible and visual warnings if it detects that the driver’s hands are off the steering wheel for 15 seconds or more.

Now, however, Autopilot will automatically disengage itself if the warnings are ignored, and the driver won’t be able to re-engage certain features until he or she has pulled over and put the car in park. In contrast, turning on Autopilot is currently as easy as pulling twice on a steering-wheel-mounted stalk.

The restrictions will only apply to the Autosteer feature, which helps the driver keep the car in its lane. Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC) and automatic braking will both continue to function even if the car hasn’t stopped. Tesla hopes that going through the trouble of bringing the car to a complete stop and putting it park will convince motorists to keep their hands on the steering wheel once and for all.

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While Tesla hasn’t commented on the rumors, we won’t have to wait long to find out whether they’re accurate because Autopilot version 8.0 is expected to arrive in the United States in the coming weeks. And like most of the company’s upgrades, version 8.0 will be an over-the-air software update that won’t require owners to stop by the nearest service center.