back to article Tesla autopilot saves driver after he fell asleep at wheel on the freeway

In an exciting first, the autopilot feature in a Tesla car managed to save rather than kill its occupant. At 0300 PT on Friday, the highway patrol pulled alongside at grey Tesla Model S travelling at 70 miles an hour on a freeway down toward Silicon Valley and noticed that driver – 45-year-old Alexander Samek – appeared to be …

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Re: Pretty soon....

...the authorities will want a software based back-door kill-switch.

They may want that LITERALLY you know...

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Snark?

Is the constant snark helpful in these kinds of article? Seems to me the autopilot is quite impressive in a lot of situations. Have a look a some of the dashcam YouTube footage of it avoiding various collisions. Not perfect, but nothing is. What is the accident rate per mile driven compared to other cars?

I guess sarcasm is easier than finding stuff out.

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Re: Snark?

I guess it's because Elon Musk is such a nice guy - everybody loves him. And justifiably so.

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Re: Snark?

You must be new here...

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Re: Snark?

Seems to me the autopilot is quite impressive in a lot of situations.

It gets a lot of snark because it's an automated lane control supercruise that's calling itself an autopilot, despite the demonstrated incapability of detect a stationary object in the road, like a large red vehicle with blue flashing lights and a siren.

In other words, it's a bit of software that is truthfully is not quite ready for an alpha test that is widely deployed to people who don't understand the shortcomings and endanger the lives of other people. If it only killed it's own drivers then we probably wouldn't mind so much since the choice would be on the person driving it, however many of us object to being killed by somebody elses bad software decisions, with a liability on the software company of saying "sorry" in the most insincere way possible.

What is the accident rate per mile driven compared to other cars?

Quite poor apparently.

https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1107109_teslas-own-numbers-show-autopilot-has-higher-crash-rate-than-human-drivers/page-2

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Happy

Re: Snark?

I guess sarcasm is easier than finding stuff out.

i'm so meta even this acronym

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Defeat devices

It appears to be be possible (and has for some time) to circumvent the driver awareness system by wedging a water bottle or something of similar weight into the steering wheel, which fools it into thinking there's a hand on it. I should think that's what happened here.

The correct approach seems to be that taken by GM, which uses a camera system to track the driver's gaze and figure out if they're paying attention to the road or not. I'm also pleased to see that Volvos are immune to this little trick and use a different technique to detect a hand on the wheel.

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TRT
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Re: Defeat devices

Here, Ted. You forgot your brick.

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Re: Defeat devices

Hyundai also have a system that requires driver input when it's Lane Assist is in Active mode. In my experience simply holding the wheel isn't enough, it very quickly spots if you are trying to fool it.

I'm surprised Tesla didn't include some way to detect a cop car, especially as this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_signal_preemption

has been available in parts of the US for some time.

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Re: Defeat devices

All makes of car that I've seen recently have a version of this, driver fatigue detection. Will pop up a warning noise and picture of a coffee cup if it detects you are not on the ball. Mine hasn't activated yet.

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News about Tesla is a Rorschach test for the media.

If you read all the different media reports about this incident, its very easy to see that each reporter has seen what they wanted to see in the story.

Some are praising Tesla's Autopilot for saving lives. Others are critising it for allowing the situation to occur.

The reality is that it's not much of a story really, and it isn't really about Tesla. It's a story about a stupid guy who thought he could get away with drink driving, and about some cops who saved lives with smart thinking. An interesting story, to be sure, but not worth the vast number of column inches it's earned because journalists want to push their Tesla agenda.

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Erm NO

Tesla's autopilot is supposed to disengage and slow the vehicle if the driver is not demonstrating attentiveness. So no, it didn't save this guy's life. It endangered lives by continuing to function even when it shouldn't have.

Tesla's system is simply broken. Drivers can fool it by placing weight on the wheel and can take their hands off for up to 30 seconds which is WAY too long, encouraging all kinds of unsafe activity and inattentiveness. If it were fit for purpose the car would require drivers wiggle the wheel, or perform some mandated task every so often that can't be fooled and they would bleep if hands were off the wheel for even a few seconds.

They're still treating driver engagement and attentiveness as an afterthought. This story merely demonstrates that. The next time it happens, the outcome might be vastly different.

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Am I misreading?

People are ripping Musky to bits but the reports quotes the Muskid:

"Exactly. Default Autopilot behavior, if there’s no driver input, is to slow gradually to a stop & turn on hazard lights. Tesla service then contacts the owner. Looking into what happened here."

Surely the Musky-one's first two sentences explain what should have happened followed by a statement that they're looking into whether it acted correctly or not...

Luckily the reporter's sentence then completely confuses the quote by adding the non-statement "Which is, of course, not what happened.' Did it not take the correct action? Is Musky not looking it to it? Did it take the correct action but wrongly performed it?

Clarification would be good ...

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Anonymous Coward

Default behaviour not always desirable

I don't have a Tesla, and probably wouldn't use Autopilot if I did, but if I'm driving on the 2nd lane of a two-lane Autobahn, even if I pass out I would not want it to slow to a controlled halt and put the hazards on, because pretty soon I'd be rear-ended by a large saloon travelling at near warp speed, and that would not be good for anyone's health.

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Flame

If Tesla made microwaves

They would freeze whatever you put in.

Remember - this is the guy who kept calling one of the volunteer divers who rescued those kids from the cave system a paedophile.

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Pint

"...detect if police are trying to pull you over."

Well past time to subject such "self-driving" system to a basic Driving Test.

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IT Angle

Re: "...detect if police are trying to pull you over."

Make the police sirens emit a fax tone, and put microphones in the car with a modem plugged to it.

A one-way digital signal is embedded in the 9600-baud carrier tone, ordering the autonomous car to slow down and pull over, like a kill switch. Every autonomous car within the siren's range will hear the signal, and offer the driver a chance to IGNORE the command in 60 seconds. If he DOESN'T ignore, the car autonomously pulls over, or just stops.

Or make it a wifi or 3G signal that only autonomous vehicles can pick up (all Teslas have a 3G chip, don't they?), and ONLY the police has access and authorization to use it, preferably adding the license plate or VIN to make it an ADDRESSABLE signal. (Tampering with those would be illegal as consequence...)

Still, you can keep the 60 seconds command to IGNORE it, and answer to the POLICE why you would refuse to pull over.

Sorted.

HERE'S YOUR IT ANGLE.

Next!

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