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Tesla to limit autopilot capabilities to prevent drivers from ‘doing crazy things’

FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, a Tesla Model S is on display on the first press day of the Frankfurt Auto Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany. Tesla Motors on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 unveiled an autopilot system that lets its cars change lanes by themselves. It will be added to some Model S sedans and Model X SUVs through a software update.
FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, a Tesla Model S is on display on the first press day of the Frankfurt Auto Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany. Tesla Motors on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 unveiled an autopilot system that lets its cars change lanes by themselves. It will be added to some Model S sedans and Model X SUVs through a software update. Michael Probst / File / AP Photo

Tesla Motor’s self-driving autopilot feature may seem a little crazy to the average driver, but that hasn’t stopped Tesla owners from putting it to the test – some with dangerous outcomes.

Since the luxury electric car maker added the feature to its Model S sedans in October, several YouTube videos have surfaced showing people testing the system on winding roads without their hands on the wheel.

One video in particular – titled “Tesla autopilot tried to kill me” – showing a Tesla SP90D model abruptly veering into oncoming traffic on a two-lane highway, has raked in over a million views on YouTube.

Another video shows one driver’s vehicle jerking to the right suddenly, however, this time the driver was braced with his hands over the wheel.

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In response to daring tests like these, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company is planning to add “additional constraints” to the system in order to “minimize the possibility of people doing crazy things with it.”

Musk made the comments during the company’s quarterly earnings call Tuesday, more than a week after it announced the feature would be available to owners worldwide, excluding Japan.

READ MORE: Tesla shows off new autopilot feature

While Musk didn’t specify what type of constraints the company would put on the software, reports speculate it may include increased sensitivity that would prevent drivers from removing their hands from the wheel for prolonged periods of time. In other words, the driver would be forced to touch the wheel in some way – bracing them to take over should anything go wrong.

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Autopilot uses data from the Model S’ cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors to automatically steer, change lanes and adjust speed in response to traffic flow. The system also allows the car to parallel park itself.

Tesla has maintained that drivers are still responsible for the vehicle’s safety when using the beta feature.

When Global News contacted Tesla regarding autopilot’s safety concerns, a spokesperson reiterated that drivers should be prepared to take control of the vehicle at any time – that means having their hands on the steering wheel.

“Today’s Autopilot features are designed to provide a hands-on experience to give drivers more confidence behind the wheel, increase their safety on the road, and make highway driving more enjoyable,” a Tesla spokesperson told Global News.

“Drivers can’t abdicate responsibility; we expect the driver to be present and prepared to take over at any time.”

Additionally, Tesla notes that the feature is meant to be used on highways – not necessarily on more difficult-to-maneuver routes, such as winding two-way roads.

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