Tesla Said to Join Luxury Race Into Automated Driving

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Tesla Motors Inc. will make its first foray toward automated driving with a suite of new high-tech features including one that can keep the car in its lane, said a person familiar with the carmaker’s plans. Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

Tesla Motors Inc. will make its first foray toward automated driving, joining luxury rivals in offering high-tech features including one that can keep the car in its lane, said a person familiar with the carmaker’s plans.

The new capabilities will be revealed at an announcement scheduled for this week, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk on Oct. 1 posted on Twitter that the electric-car maker will “unveil the D and something else” and included a photo of a darkly lit Tesla and the date Oct. 9.

Tesla, maker of the Model S luxury sedan, is adding electronic features that help drive the car, reducing the strain of traffic congestion. The automaker is responding to the increasing use of such functions by rivals such as Volkswagen AG’s Audi and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, as well as more mass-market manufacturers such as Honda Motor Co.

The automaker last month began installing cameras in the Model S, including a forward facing one behind the windshield, that will enable safety technology required by European regulators, Simon Sproule, a company spokesman, said in an interview yesterday. He declined to confirm the specific safety features ahead of Tesla’s announcement.

“We started installing camera hardware from September in support of European” safety regulations, Sproule said. “More news to come.”

Competitive Space

Automakers are increasingly competing on automated driver-assistance features, which are seen as a stepping stone to self-driving vehicles and require more sensors and computing power in vehicles. More cars are parking themselves, telling their drivers when they’re drifting out of the lane or when there’s another vehicle in the blind spot, and automatically maintaining a safe distance from the car in front when driving in stop-and-go traffic.

Musk in June said Tesla was advancing plans to add self-driving, or “auto-pilot” features, to its electric cars. By next year, “you’ll be able to go from highway on-ramp to highway exit without touching any controls,” he said.

Chipmaker Nvidia Corp. has supplied Tesla with processors for current versions of the Model S, which features a 17-inch touch screen for information and entertainment in its dashboard. It also provides in-vehicle information and entertainment technology to Honda and other automakers.

Attached to the Oct. 1 post was a picture of an obscured garage door marked as “D,” lifted enough to show the contours of a vehicle inside. No further details were available.

Besides the Model S, the Palo Alto, California-based electric-car company has announced plans to begin selling the Model X sport-utility vehicle in 2015 and the Model 3, a smaller, more affordable premium sedan, by 2017.

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