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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A Tesla Model S travelling at 65 mph in autopilot mode has crashed into a parked fire truck on a California freeway, prompting safety concerns surrounding the electric car maker’s self-driving technology. The fire truck had been parked with its light flashing in the emergency lane and carpool lane at the scene of a previous accident, according to Culver City Fire Department.

“The driver reports the vehicle was on autopilot. ”


In a separate incident over the weekend, a man was arrested and charged with a DUI after police discovered him passed out behind the wheel of a Tesla vehicle travelling in autopilot mode on the Bay Bridge in California.

Tesla responded to both incidents by reiterating previous comments stating that its autonomous technology is only meant to assist drivers, not replace them.
~ Story here


Tesla says its "autonomous technology" is only meant to "assist"?

autonomous definition:
2. having autonomy; not subject to control from outside; independent:
3. (of a vehicle) navigated and maneuvered by a computer without a need for human control or intervention under a range of driving situations and conditions:

Then it's not "autonomous".

Had a Fire Fighter or LEO or Paramedic been struck and killed in any of these incidents, what would the fallout be like?

Edit: Just how does a cop go about pulling over an "auto-piloted" car when the driver is unconscious?
 

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[
Tesla says its "autonomous technology" is only meant to "assist"?

autonomous definition:
2. having autonomy; not subject to control from outside; independent:
3. (of a vehicle) navigated and maneuvered by a computer without a need for human control or intervention under a range of driving situations and conditions:

Then it's not "autonomous".

Had a Fire Fighter or LEO or Paramedic been struck and killed in any of these incidents, what would the fallout be like?
I've never seen Tesla state that any of their current vehicles utilize autonomous technology. Is there evidence of such a statement?

I'm very skeptical of the driver's claim that driver assistance was engaged. We need to wait for Tesla to investigate and report back.

I don't understand why the driver would even mention autopilot, as that does not absolve him of any responsibility. If a pilot crashes a commercial plane due to an over-reliance on automated systems, do we blame the airplane? The person behind the wheel accepts the responsibility of using all available faculties to safely operate it, and carries liability insurance due to the enormous responsibility.

I find calls to emotion to be uninteresting to the facts of any situation. What if the guy was simply wasted and had plowed through a daycare killing a thousand children? It didn't happen, and isn't relevant to the discussion of the relative danger of various behaviors and technologies.
 

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Looks like the driver was also on auto pilot. Years ago, my Dad and I were flying cross country using the autopilot. I fell asleep in the right seat. When I awoke, my Dad stated I was not a very good copilot falling asleep like that. Then he sheepishly admitted that he had fallen asleep also. The autopilot was only a wing level type without pitch control. What woke him up was the rise and fall of the engine RPM as the plane dived and climbed in a slow oscillation. Humans don't do well if left with nothing to do. I learned from that experience to play with the nav aids to keep occupied.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've never seen Tesla state that any of their current vehicles utilize autonomous technology. Is there evidence of such a statement?

I find calls to emotion to be uninteresting to the facts of any situation. What if the guy was simply wasted and had plowed through a daycare killing a thousand children? It didn't happen, and isn't relevant to the discussion of the relative danger of various behaviors and technologies.
Red, I'm citing the Tesla response in the last line of the second quote. Although Tesla does use the term "autopilot" in their literature. Even that term is misleading as it's definition is
1 : a device for automatically steering ships, aircraft, and spacecraft; also : the automatic control provided by such a device. Then the definition of automatic

Regarding the calls to emotion, you are spot on. The general public lives on emotion, (primarily fear of the unknown or science that's difficult to understand or conflicts with some personal long held beliefs) and it's public sentiment that will sway lawmakers with respect to AV regulation. Even if the facts and statistics show AV's (even in it's current state) are exponentially safer than humans at the wheel, a few unfortunate ...sensationalized mishaps...can have a dramatically negative effect.
 

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If Tesla mentioned autonomy, then it did so mistakenly as you point out. Automatic is not equivalent to autonomous. Teslas have automatic features, but not autonomy. Some of my vehicles shift automatically, but do not autonomously take me to my destination.

I'm quick to be critical of news and media because the fact that it's in the news suggests it's a rare occurrence. Why aren't we bombarded by Syria stories anymore; because conflict there is normal to us now. A general rule of thumb is that if you heard it in the news, you can safely ignore it.

Even if the Tesla system was active and should have avoided the accident, and even if there had been injuries and deaths, it doesn't necessarily mean we need to ban the technology. We need to evaluate the relative benefit of the technology vs the downside it poses as people pay less attention. What is the accident rate per 1,000,000 miles of Teslas compared to similarly sporty vehicles not equipped with driving aids? How about fatality rate?
 

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Another thing notable in the photo above is that Tesla is stuffed under the rear bumper of the truck without even breaking the windshield, or so far as we know, injuring the driver.

That's a remarkable testimony to modern safety standards.
 

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Another thing notable in the photo above is that Tesla is stuffed under the rear bumper of the truck without even breaking the windshield, or so far as we know, injuring the driver.

That's a remarkable testimony to modern safety standards.
The OP said that the Tesla was going 65 MPH at the time of the crash. Seems very unlikely given the somewhat limited overall extent of the damage.
 

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The one in Florida that hit a white semi trailer against a setting sun I get as hard to see for car and driver. But this with a red truck with flashing lights is hard to miss. Maybe anything that's not in some database is ignored. Hard to think of everything that one might see on a road. But, really? I'm hoping my Bolt saves me one day. Or not. Hoping I pay more attention. I was taught to drive by pretending the brakes could always fail. Makes one slow down. I laugh when I see people's front wheels all dark with the powder from the brake pads. Scares me.
 

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But this with a red truck with flashing lights is hard to miss. Maybe anything that's not in some database is ignored.
Has Tesla confirmed automatic systems were active at the time of the crash?

This reminds me of the man claiming his Bolt had run into his house after having parked it and gone inside. What someone claims, and the truth, can be very different things.
 

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I laugh when I see people's front wheels all dark with the powder from the brake pads. Scares me.
Yes, either they’re really, really hard on their brakes, or they drive a BMW. My E46 wagon used brake pads that would coat the front wheels almost immediately after cleaning them. The brakes worked well but they sure threw off a ton of brake dust.
 

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IMO, all the cool, awesome stuff to do with Tesla is because of Elon Musk. On the flip side, all the bad, annoying and possibly risky stuff is due to Elon Musk. The "Autopilot" feature is one of those things.

Problem one. They named it Autopilot. The name implies it can go on it's own and requires no assistance, kind of like what the general public thinks and autopilot in an airliner does. The Tesla system is not that.

Problem two. Elon Musk keeps telling everyone how awesome and amazing their "Autopilot" is. Tesla fans tend to bow to Elon's wisdom like he is a god. If Elon says it works, it works.

Problem three. YouTubing Tesla fans keep posting videos of how well the Tesla Autopilot works. These videos embolden people to believe that the system is pretty much flawless. It is not.

Problem four. We as a public have become so used to "lawyer speak" and cover your ash product liability releases that we don't give them a second thought, click "agree" and move on. We assume that all these annoying requirements and prods are just the company being hyper vigilant to avoid frivolous lawsuits in the highly unlikely event something goes wrong. Tesla buyers look to problems one through three and say to themselves- "Yeah, it's cool. This is just the lame lawyers talking" and click agree and go on without a thought.

The result of all this is, yes. Some Tesla owners are pushing the limits of the Tesla technology believing it to be nearly flawless. One only needs to look to the incident that happened very recently with the Model S owner that passed out unconscious drunk at the wheel with Autopilot active on the Bay Bridge here in the Bay Area only to have the system do it's duty and recognize he was no longer with anybody and stop the car in the middle of the bridge. The car ratted him out and he was arrested.

The point of this story isn't that the Autopilot works so well, it's that it builds so much false confidence in drivers. This guy was beyond 2x the legal limit for alcohol and the officers had to work to wake him up. This tells me that he drinks a lot and that he likely has successfully made it home in his Tesla many times before. Stay awake and touch the wheel, that's all you gotta do...
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Problem three. YouTubing Tesla fans keep posting videos of how well the Tesla Autopilot works. These videos embolden people to believe that the system is pretty much flawless. It is not.
It's like too many Tesla owners (and their fanbois) are the new ostentatiously insufferable BMW M-Series owners. One would need to be a first class jerk to post a how-to on defeating a vehicle safety system video ... while simultaneously flaunting the fact that they are defeating a vehicle safety system ( a more robust safety feature that was added only after another driver got himself killed ignoring the less obtrusive safety feature):


Check how many days ago it was posted, and the number of views.
 

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It's like too many Tesla owners (and their fanbois) are the new ostentatiously insufferable BMW M-Series owners.
Maybe on Youtube.

But at least on the highway the Teslas blend into the flow of traffic pretty well - in sharp contrast to the often insufferable drivers of all BMW models who too often leave a wake of disrupted traffic all along their journey.
 

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Setting aside for a moment the gross misuse of Tesla Autopilot illustrated in the incidents above - Teslas are nice. I hope Bolt can soon do this: Owner uses Summon, maybe on his Apple Watch.

His car parked in a few inches of water moves forward so he can get in on dry ground. I want a Bolt that can do this!

Source - Reddit


 

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IMO, all the cool, awesome stuff to do with Tesla is because of Elon Musk. On the flip side, all the bad, annoying and possibly risky stuff is due to Elon Musk. The "Autopilot" feature is one of those things.
Exactly. Innovation requires risk, and loss is often part of the process of gaining. Elon says that he started Tesla assuming it would fail. Most new businesses do, and it's nearly impossible to gain a foothold in the established automotive industry.

Problem one. They named it Autopilot. The name implies it can go on it's own and requires no assistance, kind of like what the general public thinks and autopilot in an airliner does. The Tesla system is not that.
It kind of is autopilot, but even more advanced. People don't think of autopilot in an airplane and envision pilots sleeping a hangover off. Autopilot assists the safe operation of the plane, and likewise, autopilot assists the safe operation of a vehicle.

Problem two. Elon Musk keeps telling everyone how awesome and amazing their "Autopilot" is. Tesla fans tend to bow to Elon's wisdom like he is a god. If Elon says it works, it works.
Did Elon say you can shirk the responsibility of being the driver? I would like to see a video that shows Tesla advocating abandonment of attention, or suggesting the driver can pay less attention.

Problem three. YouTubing Tesla fans keep posting videos of how well the Tesla Autopilot works. These videos embolden people to believe that the system is pretty much flawless. It is not.
Are the videos faked? Does it misrepresent the capabilities of the system? No system is flawless.

Problem four. We as a public have become so used to "lawyer speak" and cover your ash product liability releases that we don't give them a second thought, click "agree" and move on. We assume that all these annoying requirements and prods are just the company being hyper vigilant to avoid frivolous lawsuits in the highly unlikely event something goes wrong.
That's the natural outcome of a litigious society; one in which personal responsibility is not valued, and the expectation that government and business is responsible for our behavior. If people don't have time to RTFM, I don't have time to piddy the foo.

The result of all this is, yes. Some Tesla owners are pushing the limits of the Tesla technology believing it to be nearly flawless...

The point of this story isn't that the Autopilot works so well, it's that it builds so much false confidence in drivers. This guy was beyond 2x the legal limit for alcohol and the officers had to work to wake him up. This tells me that he drinks a lot and that he likely has successfully made it home in his Tesla many times before.
I've got no vested interest in Tesla and have no intention of owning one, but the fact that this is news means it is uncommon. People misusing a product isn't uniquely a problem of Tesla, but a problem of humanity. I guarantee more people accidentally die every year putting a plastic bag over their head than are killed by overconfidence in autopilot. When things make the news, it's because the situation is unique and uncommon. We're not constantly bombarded by Syria news anymore, and that's because we're all used to violence existing there.

This isn't to say that autopilot is good enough, just that the nature of developing this technology includes risk, and the quest for perfection is not reason to abandon that quest when it fails to achieve 100% reliability.
 

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This reminds me of the Audi phantom acceleration issue back in the 80's I think. Wait and see what the investigation finds out before we jump to any conclusions. Of the handful of incidents I've heard about, (and you can be sure that if there is one, we will have heard about it) the autopilot used as intended is rarely at fault. There's always going to be some circumstances that befuddle the system which is why Level 5 Autonomy is still a few years out.
If you look at the miles driven with the system and number of accidents, I think you'll find the Tesla autopilot on top of the heap.
https://www.msn.com/en-ca/autos/news/motorcyclist-taking-gm-to-court-over-self-driving-bolt-crash/ar-AAv7BuG
They probably have 10's of millions of miles of experience and data to keep refining the system. Even GM's Supercruise system is not intended to replace the driver but it is hands free whereas the Tesla system is not.
 
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