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B.C. resident amongst first group of drivers in Canada to receive Tesla's new self-driving software

AI, take the wheel!

This week Tesla starting to roll out the beta version of its self-driving system to owners in Canada.

The new software is a level two semi-autonomous, meaning the vehicle can drive itself with some assistance from the driver.

Kelowna resident Benton Calder is among the first group of drivers in Canada who has the software installed in his Tesla. The vehicle handles city street auto-steering, reacts to stop lights/signs and yields to pedestrians.

The driver is able to take over at any point by tapping the brake, or by lightly grabbing the steering wheel.

Calder received the software for his Tesla on Monday and says he’s enjoying the new features.

“Everyday after work, I take it for a little spin to different areas around town to kind of challenge it to see what it’ll do. So far, I’ve seen it do great stuff around really well-defined lines, so the highways and stuff like that, it works really well,” says Calder.

Calder says he noticed edge cases in areas around the city where road lines aren’t painted or at intersections with difficult angles that the software is unable to read.

However, any mistake or issue made by the new software gets documented by the driver by pressing a button on the screen and sent straight to Tesla for improvements to be made.

“What I’ve noticed is it brakes more than what you want, so it is very cautious there are times where it will try to do, kind of the wrong maneuver. For instance, a left turn at an intersection where there might be double lanes on one side, it’ll maybe accidentally take the wrong lane on the left turn, so maybe on the outside lane,” said Calder.

He added that if the vehicle is driving and is “unsure” about its next move it may stop, which is when the driver can easily take over to finish the move.

The cost of the technology is $10,000 and can be purchased when the car is bought or anytime after. A safety test conducted by Tesla is also required when purchasing.

For a few weeks Tesla will monitor the driver on the road including the way they brake, turn and how close they follow people. If the driver gets a perfect or near perfect score Tesla will likely authorize the software for purchase.

While the technology is close, but not yet fully autonomous, Calder believes eventually Tesla will get there in the near future.

“I still think we’re more than a few years off from that, but the progress that they’ve made so far, just in the last year that it’s been rolled out in the United States and from what I hear from other users…I think just personally it will hit a point where it is as safe as a human pretty soon and then we’ll get even safer,” he said.

The inside of the vehicle a camera placed above the rearview mirror monitors the drivers attentiveness to the road. If the driver is, for example, on their phone or not looking at the road, a notification will appear on the screen to advise the driver to pay attention.