Tesla Motors is making a change that it says could save lives.
The electric car manufacturer is altering the way its autopilot system works, the Wall Street Journal reported. The update will make vehicles more dependent on radar signals to guide them along roads. It will also include safeguards to make sure drivers are paying attention to road conditions when traveling at high speeds.
As part of the changes, the system will disengage if drivers ignore three warnings within an hour to keep their hands on the wheel. In order to reactivate the system, the driver would need to stop and restart the car.
The current system lets drivers know when their hands have been off the wheel too long, depending on driving conditions. It slows the vehicles if they don’t respond.
Tesla’s autopilot system has come under fire since a crash in May that killed Tesla test driver Joshua Brown in Florida. Brown’s death was the first known death of a driver using such a system, which uses cameras, radar and sensors to steer vehicles and set their speed.
The car in the crash that killed Brown did not brake automatically because the system failed to distinguish a truck’s white trailer from the sky. Tesla says the changes it announced Sunday might have prevented the accident. Company founder Elon Musk told reporters Sunday that the new autopilot system “would see a larger metal object across the road,” such as the trailer Brown’s car collided with.
The updates will be put into place within the next two weeks and cars will be automatically updated. All vehicles built since October 2014, when the first autopilot cars were rolled out, will receive the updates.