The turn signal is an incredibly useful feature in a car. It pre-empts other drivers of one’s intent to change driving direction, but frustratingly, few actually bother using it. Well, Tesla has filed for a new patent to help curb the global plague by automatically activating turn signals in vehicles.

According to CNET, the technology uses a number of self-driving data sources (part of its Autopilot system), fed by steering angle sensors, cameras, ultrasonic sensors and more to determine if the driver wants to change lanes or simply make a turn. Once done computing, the system looks for other vehicles within the car’s immediate vicinity and activates the turn signals.

Tesla says an automated system is better than the current reminders (active systems such as Lane Keeping Assist) used in cars that try to get the driver to turn their blinkers on. The patent is international, and the Californian automaker plans to use its sensors and onboard processor to make this work.


Click to enlarge: Tesla automated turn signal patent (left), system flow chart (right)

The patent description reads: “A vehicle, such as a car, hosts a turn signal light source, such as a bulb, which is manually activated by a driver of the vehicle, such as when making a turn or switching lanes. When activated, the turn signal light source visually notifies others, such pedestrians and the drivers of other vehicles, that the vehicle may change its direction of travel by, for example, turning onto another road or switching road lanes.”

“However, since the turn signal light source is manually activated by the driver, there are often times when the driver neglects to activate the turn signal light source before changing its direction of travel. This situation can be dangerous, especially on high speed roads, and is often a cause of vehicle accidents or instances of road rage.”

Further details of the system has yet to be revealed, but if Tesla is going out of its way to fight this abysmal problem that is global, then what use is the stalk – which has been very carefully designed to be within reach – if not to make driving safer and less stressful for all? Are you in favour of this automated technology by Tesla? Share your thoughts, below.