Tesla Model S electric car owners in Hong Kong recovered a couple of key semi-autonomous driving features taken away from them five months ago at the behest of local authorities. Owners owners saw their auto steering and auto lane-changing functions were remotely reactivated by the Silicon Valley electric car maker.
“Tesla's Autopilot is back in Hong Kong with v7.1,” said a post on the Facebook page of Charged Hong Kong, a local electric car group, referring to the latest vehicle software update.
The update was permitted after Hong Kong’s Transportation Department approved the two features, which use the Model S electric sedan’s bevy of sensors to automatically keep the vehicle in its lane and change lanes when the driver activated the turn signal.
Local authorities demanded in November that Tesla remove the features after the company released them to local vehicle owners, jumping ahead of authorities’ efforts to ensure the technology was safe. The move underscores a challenge the auto industry will face as it rolls out semiautonomous driving technology globally that skirts the line between convenience and safety.
Tesla scaled back the features in the U.S. in November after users were found violating company instructions not to remove their hands from the steering wheel. Tesla now restricts the technology to speeds below 45 mph on single-lane roads with clearly delineated line markings.
Hong Kong officials initially expressed concern about how the technology would work in the city’s crowded traffic and has instructed Tesla to educate drivers about the technology and its limitations, according to the South China Morning Post.
Tesla has also taken a lead in using over-the-air software updates to add new vehicle features. In September 2014 Tesla distributed an update that raises and lowers the Model S suspension based on “remembering” where the car needs additional clearance (like speed bumps) on regular driving routes.