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Tesla Model S autopilot will 'revolutionize your commute,' company says

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Beck Diefenbach/Reuters/File

(Read caption) New Autopilot features are demonstrated in a Tesla Model S during a Tesla event in Palo Alto, Calif. in October.

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Electric-car maker Tesla Motors has been quite busy over the past few months.

Among other accomplishments, the company released its long-awaited "Autopilot" autonomous-driving feature and other new automation capabilities via over-the-air software updates.

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These are building blocks to technology that will allow cars to drive themselves without human intervention, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said.

Tesla decided to demonstrate how all of these new features can be combined to"revolutionize" a driver's commute in a short YouTube video.

The enhanced commute starts not by walking into a garage, but by pulling out a smartphone and activating "Summon."

Introduced as part of a software update earlier this month, Summon allows owners to command their cars to pull out of garages or parking spots.

The feature does not work in parallel spaces, and only allows cars to pull forward or backward.

Tesla believes the added convenience will be worthwhile to owners--particularly if they typically park in narrow garage bays or spaces.

The somewhat-frightening automated "snake" charging cord Tesla demonstrated last year may have been intended to be used in conjunction with Summon, adding one more layer of automation to the process.

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Once the car is summoned, the video shifts to showing off Tesla's Autopilot autonomous features.

In its current state, Autopilot can autonomously steer to keep a car centered in its lane, and maintain a set following distance.

It also allows drivers to initiate automated lane changes by simply flicking a turn signal stalk.

Tesla still considers the system to be in the "public beta" stage, but plans to add more capabilities over time.

At the launch of Autopilot, Elon Musk advised drivers that the system prefers roads with clear lane markers and dense traffic, and that it doesn't work in foul weather.

Model S sedans built since September 2014 have the necessary hardware for Autopilot--including an array of sensors and a forward-facing camera--as do all Model X crossovers.

When the journey ends, a properly-equipped Model S can also park itself--a feature that's admittedly been available on other production cars for some time.

Musk previously said Tesla will continue to develop this technology, until cars can more or less drive themselves point to point.

He said Tesla will have that capability within three years, but getting permission from regulators may push back implementation.