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January 29, 2020 11:03 am

Israel Greenlights Tesla’s Semi-Autonomous Driving System

avatar by Udi Etsion / CTech

A 2018 Tesla Model S. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

CTech – Israel’s Ministry of Transport and Road Safety has decided to allow Tesla vehicles sold in the country to use the company’s semi-autonomous driving system, Autopilot, according to one person familiar with the matter who spoke to Calcalist on condition of anonymity. Earlier this month, the ministry made a decision to completely ban the system.

The change of heart follows further inspection of the system’s capabilities and talks between the ministry and Tesla representatives in Israel, the person said. According to the person, Tesla put the ministry’s fears to rest by stating that the Autopilot is just a driving assistance system that does not replace the human driver, who still needs to keep two hands on the wheel at all times, as per the requirements of the law.

While permitting the semi-autonomous capabilities of the vehicles, the ministry did not lift its ban on two features: remote control and the ability to summon the car from where it is parked without a driver present, the person said.

According to the person, the ministry is examining possible legislation changes that will allow for autonomous parking, but this would take some time. A human driver would still be required to hold the wheel at all times, even after said changes, the person said.

Tesla was scheduled to launch in Israel in January. In the past few weeks, Calcalist reported Tesla has leased both a showroom in east Tel Aviv and a pop-up store space in the city’s northern Ramat Aviv Mall. Both have yet to open. The company has postponed the launch to March at the earliest, the person said. Due to the delay, Ramat Aviv Mall has demanded Tesla evacuate the space it has leased, an issue that has yet to be resolved, the person added.

Ramat Aviv Mall declined Calcalist’s request for comment.

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