Ready for self-steering cars? Hong Kong transport officials approve use of Tesla autopilot functions in policy reversal
Local electric vehicle group learned of ‘shocking’ development when download available from US car maker’s website
Locky Law, the group’s representative, found that the two functions had become available in Hong Kong on Monday when he downloaded the latest version of the autopilot feature on his model S car.
WATCH: Locky Law tests the Tesla ‘autopilot’ system in Hong Kong
Law called the department’s reversal “shocking”.
A department spokesman told the Post it approved two features – auto steer and auto lane change – after examining information Tesla provided.
The two features must be used on roads with a central divider and a speed limit of 70 km per hour or above as well as display a proper warning message to remind drivers to maintain control at all times.
The department also directed Tesla to educate drivers so that they would be aware of how the features operated and what their limitations were.
It also advised that the auto steer and auto change features offered only supplementary assistance.
READ MORE: With Tesla’s Model S now Hong Kong’s top-selling sedan, chief Elon Musk predicts city to become world leader in electric vehicles
In October last year, Tesla CEO Elon Mask announced on Twitter that the two autopilot functions would be released globally, including in Hong Kong. But the company soon thereafter suspended them locally because the department declined to approve their use.
Law said the current autopilot package came in five parts: traffic-aware cruise control, autosteer, auto lane change, autopark and summon.
Summon was the most recent feature Tesla added to its autopilot function when it released version 7.1 in January.
It allows drivers to park their cars in and out of their garages automatically. Currently, Japan and Hong Kong are the only markets that are still awaiting approval for use of the Summon feature, according to Tesla.
The other autopilot functions were available in the city, said Law, who thought the summon feature could be useful in Hong Kong due to the city’s scarcity of parking spaces.
“It would be helpful if the government allowed it,” he said.
In a statement, Tesla said it would work “closely and cooperatively” with the department to help establish best practices at the company and for the car industry.