Elon Musk unveils Tesla's newest record-breaker: autopilot technology

Written By: Brittney B. 

One of the world's most coveted cars just got even cooler. On October 9, the king of sustainable sports cars made waves that will be hard to top. Tesla surprised critics and sent competitors scrambling when they unveiled their newest and most futuristic innovation to date: autopilot as a standard feature.

As the auto industry continues to buzz over the details, Tesla's engineers are probably hard at work, fine-tuning and testing the precise hardware and software that makes this technology possible. So until you can actually take it for a test-drive -- or let it take you for one -- you can whet your appetite with the specs Tesla has already announced.

Changing the roads with smarter cars

This won't be the experimental kind of autonomous technology, which still keeps self-driving cars confined to closed courses. When Tesla sets a standard, they set it sky-high, so their new autopilot hardware will come standard with every new Model S. That means all the safety-oriented hardware will be integrated right into the body of the car, including a radar system in the grille, a redesigned rear-view mirror, a front-facing camera, and twelve new long-range sensors.

These new features will allow the Tesla Model S to detect traffic patterns and signs, avoid or reduce the impact of collisions, change lanes, and more -- all without help from the driver. These are standard, so safety is included, but convenience and luxury will cost extra. Additional options are available in the Tech Package, which is already making headlines for "convenience features" that include curbside pick-up, seats with memory and GPS navigation.

Living up to the hype once again

If you follow Tesla's CEO on Twitter, you knew something was coming; you just didn't know what. A week before the big reveal, Elon Musk posted a teaser photo that looked like a trailer for a big-budget blockbuster. A dark garage, a door marked "D" raised just enough to reveal the front of a black car, and a date. Everyone already knew the Tesla D was coming, and now they knew when, but that wasn't all. Musk deepened the suspense with the promise of "something else", and he definitely delivered.

A big build-up isn't new for Tesla; after all, it took the company a decade just to start posting profits. But industry insiders wondered just how big the news would be, and it turns out the most ambitious predictions were spot-on. The big launch included a demo right inside the Model S, in which it read and followed speed limits, steered and accelerated automatically, and even changed lanes.

The sustainable sportscar was once an impossible concept, but after years of game-changing inventions, Tesla has changed the definition of the electric car. That's why its new autopilot technology is so exciting; it holds the promise of even better and safer features to come. Someday we'll look back and wonder how we ever put up with traffic jams or traffic fatalities, and thanks to Musk, someday is coming a lot sooner than expected.