Tesla CEO’s Warning On Autopilot Must Be Taken Seriously [VIDEO]

Tesla stockBlomst / Pixabay

Tesla’s Autopilot settings makes it possible to drive semi-autonomously recent versions of the Model S and the just-launched Model X, but the feature is very much a work in progress. Tech website CNET posted a few videos in which a Model S in Autopilot mode is seen lunging suddenly towards the side of the road and into incoming traffic.

System works well in ideal conditions

In both recorded incidents, the drivers had to take over manually and steer to avoid the accidents. Such incidents underscore the repeated warnings from Tesla CEO Elon Musk that the system is a beta release and that it is important for drivers to remain cautious.

During a press conference while introducing Autopilot, Musk said, “We’re advising drivers to keep their hands on the wheel. You need to be ready to take the wheel at any time.”

The system is not able to perform efficiently when lane markings are unclear and in heavy precipitation, admitted Musk. Citing a section of L.A.’s notorious 405 Freeway where the system got confused by the faded pavement markers and diverging lanes, Musk said the system failed to figure out which one was the real lane and went into the wrong lane.

Musk added that the system works well where infrastructure is good and where there are clear markings on the road or the driver is in dense traffic, Tesla CEO said.

Tesla CEO confident on its long-term feasibility

With the help of Autopilot, Tesla’s Model S is capable of driving itself on freeways, changing lanes automatically and parallel parking without any intervention from the driver. The feature mainly gathers the required data from nearby cars and lane position. It makes use of ultrasonic sensors, a forward-facing camera and radar, and GPS integrated with highly precise maps for collecting data.

Semi-autonomous driving could be doomed before it truly takes off. A single accident is all it needs for the media to jump all over it, people to start doubting, and questions to be raised regarding the technology. The reason the system is called Autopilot is that it is usable only under ideal conditions,

Despite the glitches, Musk is confident that the Autopilot capabilities will outperform humans with refinement. “In the long term, it will be safer than a person driving,” he said.

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About the Author

Aman Jain
Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both Marketing and Finance side. He has worked as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, reviewing tech gadgets, playing PC games and cricket. - Email him at amanjain@valuewalk.com

1 Comment on "Tesla CEO’s Warning On Autopilot Must Be Taken Seriously [VIDEO]"

  1. I think the author is quite right when saying a serious accident will stall autonomous driving. There do seem to be risks involved. If one has paid for the system and it is active people will be inclined to use it whether its in Beta or not. I’ve seen a number of articles with videos that show the author taking his hands off the wheel while looking back at the camera to discuss the autopilot’s merit. What sort of an example is that? I think when it comes to driving, people need to be “all in” with their attention. I’ve had one runaway autopilot in an aircraft. Even with training it was quite a shock to feel the aircraft stagger off its path. In that case there was unlimited space giving me time to recover. On a crowded highway with little separation a person without training will not have that advantage. To introduce a car with such capabilities and no training except how to turn it on and an admonition to keep one’s hands on the wheel is not wise. Introducing it as a beta edition with clear deficiencies is equally unwise.

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