back to article Tesla to stop killing drivers: Software update beamed to leccy cars

Tesla is changing how its "Autopilot" super-cruise-control works in response to the death of one of its customers. The over-the-air software update will be automatically applied to the electric cars this month and will expand the use of radar sensors to decide whether a crash is likely to occur. In a blog post on the Tesla …

  1. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Why not Lidar?

    Because it's not installed.

    If it was added in future it'd be nice but it comes with its one sets of problems (Mine gets upset by hedges and laneside signage as well as being susceptable to locking on to the rear of vehicles in adjacent lanes)

    1. macjules Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Why not Lidar?

      Or the VW equivalent: 'Liedar"

  2. ma1010 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Mansfield bars

    Of course, if the US passed a law requiring "Mansfield bars" (underride guard hanging from rear of trailer) on the sides of trucks as well as the back, the death could most likely have been avoided altogether.

    Okay, maybe I'm missing something here. But I keep seeing comments like this from Right-Pondians, and I'm perplexed. The fellow died because, due to his inattention to the road, his car went under a trailer at 70+ MPH. So, are we being told that if the trailer had had some sort of steel guard to stop the car from going under the trailer, the driver would have been unaffected by hitting such a steel guard at 70+ MPH? Perhaps instead of getting decapitated, he'd have been crushed by the impact. With either scenario, I'd think you're not going to be pining for the fjords anymore.

    If there is something about these Mansfield bars I'm missing that would make my statement incorrect, please enlighten me. Paris because I'm confused.

    1. Kernel Silver badge

      Re: Mansfield bars

      "If there is something about these Mansfield bars I'm missing that would make my statement incorrect, please enlighten me. Paris because I'm confused."

      I believe the concept of a Mansfield bar is that the car takes the impact lower down on its body in an area of the subframe that is designed (in modern cars at least) to mitigate such impacts by collapsing in a controlled, energy absorbing, manner and triggering airbags, rather than across the windscreen where there is very little structural material between the driver's/passenger's heads and the comparatively sharp edge of the truck deck. I'm not an engineer, but I would suspect that the Mansfield bar would also tend to fold in under the deck, thus absorbing even more energy from the collision.

      That said, there is still a definite requirement for the driver to be positively engaged in the process of keeping themselves alive and a Mansfield bar only improves your chances rather than guaranteeing survival.

      1. ma1010 Silver badge

        Re: Mansfield bars

        Thanks to all those who replied to my post. So higher visibility (perhaps) and hitting the car lower where it's better able to handle a hit can improve surviveability in a collision. I kind of suspect in this particular case at 70+ MPH the guy was pretty much toast either way, but I can see how bars like that could help in a lower speed collision.

        Of course it likely won't happen here because...corporations...Congress, etc. You know. And there are a fair number of action movies that use shots where a car goes under a trailer like that (the stunt men are paying attention and do duck, at least), so maybe add Hollywood to the list of reasons why no Mansfield bars on this side of the Pond.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Mansfield bars

          @ma1010

          Of course it likely won't happen here because...corporations...Congress, etc. You know.

          Er, I thought it was to do with rail road crossings in the USA. The lorries are much longer than European ones, crossings are very often hump back, and there's millions of them like that.

          Mandating Mansfield bars now would result in lots of lorries getting stuck on crossings, which leads to a lot of nasty accidents, especially if there's a collision with an oil train. Mandating them at all will cost a vast fortune in crossing redesign across the whole country. And in Canada, Mexico too.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Mansfield bars

            I'm pretty sure that there are engineers in the USA that could solve the problem of the side protection bars on trucks grounding on rail crossings.

            1. John H Woods

              Re: Mansfield bars

              "I'm pretty sure that there are engineers in the USA that could solve the problem of the side protection bars on trucks grounding on rail crossings." --- werdsmith

              Even hinged bars that could be manually swung up for crossing large humps would do the trick. The use of Mansfield bars is much wider than might be expected --- in multiple collisions vehicles can be pinged in all sorts of trajectories: it's usually better for nobody to end up underneath trailers.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Mansfield bars

              "I'm pretty sure that there are engineers in the USA that could solve the problem of the side protection bars on trucks grounding on rail crossings."

              It's an easily solveable problem with removable anchor pins. Those humped crossings aren't common and are becoming less so.

              1. Darryl

                Re: Mansfield bars

                You're starting to see a lot more trailers with large fibreglass fairings below the trailer running from just behind the truck almost to the back wheels. I'm told they make a huge difference in increasing fuel economy. If they can survive driving over railway crossings, I'm sure bars would as well.

          2. Spudley

            Re: Mansfield bars

            They don't even need to be rigid fixed bars to have prevented the accident in this case. Anything that didn't look like clear road to the Tesla's systems would have done the trick. A fabric covering maybe? Even just a few tin-foil plates hanging on string would have been enough.

            Mitigating the impact once an accident has happened is important, but the real key is about visibility so that the accident is avoided in the first place. (this applies to plenty of other accidents that don't involve Teslas as well, by the way)

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Mansfield bars

            "Er, I thought it was to do with rail road crossings in the USA. The lorries are much longer than European ones, crossings are very often hump back, and there's millions of them like that."

            No, as the cabs would ground way before the trailers in that case - the cabs are a lot longer and are low to the ground on many US lorries.

            Either way the bars could fold outwards if they start to ground out.

            The fact that they are a requirement in China (with hi-viz markings) and they have far, far bumpier roads than the US (plenty of river crossings, rough, unbuilt roads, etc.

            The reason is pressure from the haulage industry as it would be significant costs (many would say insignificant, but ever mind) for a few hundred deaths a year (many thousands of injuries though). As with everything, it come down to lobbying and money.

          4. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Mansfield bars

            "crossings are very often hump back, and there's millions of them like that"

            There are standards requiring approaches to be fixed or the crossings closed - and US railroad companies have been steadily forcing that to be done for decades.

            Humped crossings are also supposed to have warning signposts so that truckers can avoid them (but US truckers are notorious for ignoring safety signage - like the idiot who drove her 40-ton vehicle onto a historic bridge only rated for 10 and clearly signposted as such - with utterly predictable results - because she thought 40 was less than 10. Hopefully she gets the complete bill for replacing the bridge.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mansfield bars

        > That said, there is still a definite requirement for the driver to be positively engaged in the process of keeping themselves alive

        Nicely put. :-)

        There were rumours that this driver was completely inattentive (watching videos on his tablet, as I recall). If those rumours are true and you've got someone who does not feel at least a bit uneasy about shooting down the road, overspeeding, with none at the controls, it was only a matter of time, but it was pretty clear this fellow was not going to die of old age.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Mansfield bars

          > There were rumours that this driver was completely inattentive (watching videos on his tablet, as I recall).

          That claim was made by the truck driver, who claimed to have heard the video over the noise of his own engine (yeah right)

          There's also the issue of the missing dashcam. The driver was known to use one at all times. It hasn't been recovered.

          The simple facts are:

          1: Truck driver drove across a busy road when the way was not clear (75 vs 65 mph is not going to make much difference here)

          2: Driver failed to observe the (illegal) obstruction in time to stop.

          The truck driver has a major interest in playing things to look as bad for the car driver as possible, because otherwise he faces jail time for careless driving. It'll probably never be known how much warning the Tesla driver actually had unless the missing dashcam is recovered and my money's on it having been "disposed of" quickly.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        Re: Mansfield bars

        Actually, Mansfield bars are also mandatory on the sides of trucks in Europe.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mansfield bars

      Of course, if the US passed a law requiring "Mansfield bars" (underride guard hanging from rear of trailer) on the sides of trucks as well as the back, the death could most likely have been avoided altogether.

      Two things: it places an obstruction at the point of a car where it would be more able to handle a collision, and it makes for a larger visible surface (especially if the bars or coloured different than the main side walls, but that's AFAIK not mandatory).

      I suspect the real reason they're not mandatory is because of Hollywood: many a movie car chase would become less interesting if people were not able to shift underneath a truck. That said, Dell/EMC didn't quite get the memo...

    4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Mansfield bars

      They won't stop an impact at 70mph, they might help trigger airbags (again, not much help if your upper torso is getting chopped off), but more importantly they would make the truck + trailer more visible under difficult conditions.

      Personally I have serious doubts about the ability of car companies to make this work well enough, given they are still doing recalls for dumb stuff like engine management cheating (VW), air bag sensors not always working (Ford), engines running out of control (Toyota), etc, etc. Sure they can out-break a meatbag under good conditions, and are probably better then a drunken idiot whose reactions and attention are shot to shit, but we see here just one of many odd conditions that are just not noticed.

    5. The_Don

      Re: Mansfield bars

      I think it's saying that if there were bars present, that would have been something the current system might have seen and reacted to, preventing an accident, rather than hitting rails at 70+.

    6. Dave Harvey

      Re: Mansfield bars

      Have look at the state of the Tesla that a bunch of German kids took for a drive at huge speed, took off via a "ramp" and landed nose first in a field after going up to about 25m high - http://bgr.com/2016/05/08/tesla-model-s-accident/ - they all survived.

      This shows how survivable a crash can be when the impact is onto the front of a car, which can then "crumple" as designed (especially true with a Tesla with no engine). The same is unfortunately not true when the point of impact is the windscreen (windshield to Left-Pondians), followed immediately by the front occupants' heads.

      About 20 years ago, the wife of a good friend of mine was killed in a similar incident over here before the bars became mandatory and it was determined that she would easily have survived had the bars been present, so this is a subject very dear to my heart.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Mansfield bars

        >took off via a "ramp" and landed nose first in a field after going up to about 25m high - http://bgr.com/2016/05/08/tesla-model-s-accident/ - they all survived.

        Do you have another link? The link you posted only says "the car flew 25 meters (82 feet) in the air, and rolled over at least once after crashing in a field at full speed." That's distance, not height. The photos show the car to be about 25M away from the road, on flat terrain, with no ramp or bank to be seen.

        The article is also suspect because is first says the occupants escaped unharmed, then goes on to quote a copper who said they had 'serious but non life-threatening injuries'.

        Your point remains though: The front of the car is totalled smashed (no big lump of engine, naturally), the cabin is intact - which is what you would want if you crashed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mansfield bars

          > The article is also suspect because is first says the occupants escaped unharmed

          I think what they mean (and say a bit further down) is that they were able to evacuate unaided.

          It's interesting that this accident, where the car did what it was supposed to do, hasn't seen much coverage. You would think, reading the mainstream media, that every Tesla accident is a fatal one.

          With that said, ploughed fields are great at dissipating kinetic energy. I've had a parachutist survive a canopy malfunction most likely (there are always many factors) because he crashed on a ploughed field. Broke even bones he didn't know he had, but survived. Also, you cannot compare a rollover with a full-on frontal crash. In my defensive driving courses, we were always drilled to avoid a frontal crash at all costs, including veering off the road if necessary.

          1. Def Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Mansfield bars

            ...they were able to evacuate unaided.

            And for when you can't, there are pills available that should help. ;)

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Mansfield bars

          What I read said that they managed to free themselves from the vehicle without the aid of the first responders, but that they had serious, but non-life threatening injuries.

          There is a big difference between being able to free oneself from the vehicle after the accident (not being clamped into the vehicle and having to be cut out) and not being injured.

        3. Dave Harvey

          Re: Mansfield bars - the ramp

          Here's a link to the article with the "ramp" - could almost have been purpose made!

          http://gas2.org/2016/05/07/teens-survive-horrific-crash-tesla-model-s/

          As to the 25m - the article is indeed ambiguous, but the picture of the ramp shows the car what looks to be >25m from the ramp - so I still suspect that this is a height - after all in terms of kinetic energy 25m up only needs 250J/Kg, which is readily available to a car doing (say) 35m/s (75mph) taking off from such a ramp. (35^2 / 2 * sin(25deg))

          Neither of these articles is exactly clear though - they clearly were injured, but importantly, they survived. Similarly, the 2nd article says that it landed on its wheels, but the mutilation of the front suggests otherwise - my guess is that it LANDED on the bonnet, then rolled and ENDED UP on its wheels.

          1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge

            Re: the ramp

            Looking* at the damage to the rear end of the car, it would appear that it first nose-dived into the ploughed field, then went end - over - end in the air, landing on its rear end, before finally landing on its wheels and coming to rest. The lack of damage to the roof or doors points to the fact that they never came into contact with the ground, as they would have done in the event of a rollover, thus allowing the doors, windscreen, side glass, etc., to remain intact.

            * Several years as an accident investigator at Ford's Dunton Research facility, in Essex.

    7. MrXavia
      Facepalm

      Re: Mansfield bars

      "If the trailer had had some sort of steel guard to stop the car from going under the trailer, the driver would have been unaffected by hitting such a steel guard at 70+ MPH?"

      Well with a steel (other materials are available) guard the car would have seen it and slowed down, but also, yes, if he was wearing a seatbelt, and if the Tesla is designed right, he would have walked away from a 70mph crash.. people walk away from 120 combined speed head on crashes...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mansfield bars

        "people walk away from 120 combined speed head on crashes..."

        Without wanting to open up the whole debate all over again, a 120mph head on crash with equal cars both doing the same speed is the equivalent of crashing one at 60mph.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mansfield bars

          To be clear (120mph closing speed - both cars doing 60mph head-on which I presume is what you meant).

  3. Jon 84

    Given that the USA's drivers have killed two million people in the last 40 years, I for one welcome our new autonomous vehicle overlords.

  4. Simon Lynch
    Gimp

    Drone drivers?

    Loads of people love playing video games. Seems like the US (and others) made this work with their drone programmes (just listen to the yee haas on some of the videos as a high-value target gets wiped out in a market-place - along with the definitely also-guilty bystanders).

    Why not do a kinda of Tesla chat roulette where remote drivers can patch in when the car detects a lack of attention? Then the players can save them from a lithium-enhanced fireball and win points and prizes. Win-win. What could possibly go wrong ;)

    1. Montreal Sean

      Re: Drone drivers?

      "Why not do a kinda of Tesla chat roulette where remote drivers can patch in when the car detects a lack of attention? Then the players can save them from a lithium-enhanced fireball and win points and prizes. Win-win. What could possibly go wrong ;)"

      You don't want me on the other end! When I get bored racing around in Need For Speed, I start crashing into as many cars as possible to see how high my wanted score gets and how many cop cars I can take out before being taken down. :)

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Drone drivers?

        I always raced around Nascar Racing tracks the wrong way round with the indestructibility option set to ON. Meaning, my car was indestructible, the computer controlled cars were very susceptible to damage! Happy days.... a null modem cable, a 486 and the 386DX it replaced...

    2. MrDamage

      Re: Drone drivers?

      As long as we get the "driver cam" view like what we did in the original Carmageddon, i'm all for it.

      Can you resist the urge to powerslide through a pedestrian mall just for that "Artistic Style Bonus"?

  5. Grunchy

    The road sign after a road dip are just one of probably dozens & dozens of odd situations that would all have to be reckoned.

    If the car can't see an 18 wheeler lumbering across the road, on occasion, then there's no way I'd let it drive me. Just because Tesla says this is remarkably rare situation is fallacious, because I see dozens of such trucks on my way to & from work each and every day. Tesla & Musk: pants on fire.

    The man had his head chopped off because his stupid self-driving car couldn't see a 40' pup trailer in its way. Have you ever heard of hubris?

    If one of these Tesla cars drives into me, I'm getting some lawyers and I'm going for the jugular. If I survive!

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "...dozens & dozens of odd situations..."

      Grunchy offered "...one of probably >>dozens & dozens<< of odd situations that would all have to be reckoned."

      I think that you may have misspelled Carl Sagan's favorite phrase, "billions & billions".

      No way that the total problem space has counts in the dozens. It's vastly more complex and unpredictable than that. Furthermore, the unexpected (sic) variability over time will defy Tesla's proposed Laundry List approach.

      Self-Driving Cars fully-sorted is to Today's Pathetic Attempts, as Andrew Wiles proof is to whatever the hell Pierre de Fermat was thinking.

      When they look back, they'll realize how naive they were in this era.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...dozens & dozens of odd situations..."

        I think you are saying that programming a car to drive using a 'laundry list' of rules is inadequate to deal with the vast 'problem space'. I think you, I and Tesla agree on this.

        However I think your conclusion is wrong. You think we should just wait for the arrival of AGI and not try to advance the state of the art at all? I'm sure many things are currently handled by the laundry list of IFs (piles of leaves in the road is one example) but today many things are handled by much more general, fuzzy AI routines and this percentage will only shift over time.

        But you have to start somewhere, I for one celebrate any person or company who pushes ahead, best they can, in the name of progress instead of sitting in their cave waiting for the perfect sabre-tooth tiger defence mechanism. People will say that Tesla killed this guy (and the next because there will be a next) but most sensible people realise that every year Tesla (or others) bring closer a car which is truly better than a human at driving will be saving hundreds of thousands of lives in the long run

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: "...dozens & dozens of odd situations..."

          "...celebrate any person or company who pushes ahead, best they can..."

          Tesla's Autopilot team has a Confidence-to-Competence Ratio that exceeds unity. That's what makes them dangerous. One shouldn't celebrate this.

          They, and many other players in this field, need an attitude adjustment before they start mass killings. The engineers need to return to their office and write two things on their blackboard:

          1) "Tough and competent", and

          2) "A.I. is hard."

          Never erase them.

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: "...dozens & dozens of odd situations..."

          "But you have to start somewhere, I for one celebrate any person or company who pushes ahead, best they can, in the name of progress instead of sitting in their cave waiting for the perfect sabre-tooth tiger defence mechanism"

          Yeah, great! Why not do the experimentation on highways at highway speeds, with innocent people on the roads. Makes so much sense... I'm sure you would agree, even if you were taken out by some experimental vehicle.

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      FAIL

      @ Grunchy

      Let me correct you there:

      "If some d*ckhead who cant spot an 18 wheeler drives into you, then you can get some lawyers and go for his jugular." Who gives a flying f%&k what car he's driving!

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "The man had his head chopped off because his stupid self-driving car couldn't see a 40' pup trailer in its way."

      Not to mention that the car was speeding in excess of the posted limit and the driver was treating the assistive technology "auto pilot" as a full AI system. So despite the drivers own contribution to his death, it does lead one to wonder why the "auto pilot" is allowed to break the law and not have limiters built in, The GPS mapping unit on even cheap SatNavs generally "knows" the speed limit on any particular stretch of road, poor data notwithstanding, and many will warn the driver of overspeed. Why does the Tesla allow the autopilot to go faster than the known speed limit? I'm sure the technology can take into account surrounding traffic so as not to suddenly brake from 70mph to 30 mph because you passed under a bridge carrying a 30mph road or the SatNav accuracy temporarily "jumped" you onto a parallel road with a different limit.

      It seems all of the recent accidents involving Teslas also involved faster that posted speed limits. Under manual control, that's the drivers issue. On auto pilot, the car should not be breaking the law even if the driver sets the cruise speed. The car should treat overspeed as a "hazard" and slow down.

  6. Herby Silver badge

    I'm waiting for...

    What happens when the vehicle finds a nice ice patch (difficult to see black ice!) and fumbles around trying to just keep in the lane. THAT would be a good test of autonomous vehicles.

    Will they know when to pull over and tell the people to install tire chains.

    Just travel I-80 over Donner** pass in the winter.

    ** Donner pass is on the road between California and Nevada north of lLake Tahoe. The pass itself is around 7600 feet in elevation and GETS SNOW and COLD WEATHER!!

    1. Dwarf Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: I'm waiting for...

      @herby

      So that's where all the kebabs come from.

      No wonder they need all the 40T trucks to move the meat around.

      Presumably with all the cold weather, they ship them frozen ?

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: I'm waiting for...

      What happens when the vehicle finds a nice ice patch (difficult to see black ice!) and fumbles around trying to just keep in the lane. THAT would be a good test of autonomous vehicles.

      They crash of course. Same as a human.

      1. Drone Pilot

        Re: I'm waiting for...

        The haters of these self-drive forget that free-thinking humans, with their own ideas, opinions and distractions, make terrible drivers.

        1. Jo_seph_B

          Re: I'm waiting for...

          Yes, but a half assed system where neither the questionable free-thinking human or the half baked skynet computer are fully in control is even worse!

          I've no doubt driverless cars will reduce accidents. But until the leap to fully automated cars is made these 'systems' are just going to increase accidents not reduce them.

          As a massive car enthusiast I'm dreading the future!

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: I'm waiting for...

          You confuse having a realistic view of a system's capabilities with "hating".

          No idea why...

      2. toughluck

        Re: I'm waiting for...

        No. It's possible not to crash assuming it's a reasonably straight road if you don't overdo your reactions. An autonomous vehicle might run into a problem if one or two wheels lose grip before the other do, since it will start correcting and can go into a runaway feedback cycle.

        A reasonably experienced driver will recognize the situation.

        It's also equally important to note that an experienced driver will drive defensively. Autonomous vehicles will either go too fast or too slow. It's easy to imagine them being so defensive that autopilot decides it's not possible to drive faster than 10 mph or ignoring tell-tale cues and going 70 mph because it doesn't see any risks.

        1. Jo_seph_B

          Re: I'm waiting for...

          The car should be capable of detecting a lack of grip well before the driver and should be more than capable of detecting grip levels of all wheels. All modern cars read the wheel sensors and adjust power etc at amazing speed. The issue with crashing with a car where neither the driver or fully in command is the car will react to a slide, the drive will react slower to the same slide, at which time the car is applying the brakes to correct it, the driver is also trying to correct it, both end up fighting each other and neither actually stop the event from happening.

          This is why I think either the driver needs to be fully in control or the car does. At some point fully automated cars will be much better at lowering crash rates.

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: I'm waiting for...

      "What happens when the vehicle finds a nice ice patch..."

      That's an existing feature on many cars, e.g. Mercedes ESP (Electronic Stability Program).

      It fiddles with individual brakes, cuts engine power, blinks a light on the dashboard, and most often manages to keep the car straight.

      Physics means it's not going to be a 100% solution. Which is why my car has studded ice tires.

      Thing is, at least these systems generally obey the moral guidance 'First, do no harm' to a very high degree.

      1. Jo_seph_B

        Re: I'm waiting for...

        Having tested this system on the Skidpad at Merc world its amazing how in control you are on what is effectively sheet ice!

  7. Montreal Sean

    I wonder how well the system deals with potholes.

    Around here we get potholes big enough to rip your wheel and hub from the car. Especially during the cold months.

    And, when the city finally sends out a repair truck they pop in some hot patch crap that last for a couple of days before popping out of the hole and becoming yet another thing to wreck your wheel on.

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Re: I wonder how well the system deals with potholes.

      It's cold patch that get's pounded out of a pothole within hours/days, meant for temporary repair until weather gets better or hot patch truck comes around*.

      *Did road construction/maintenance in my younger, wilder, days...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Add an Idiot Filter?

    Reports were that Joshua Brown was watching a DVD in a stand alone player while letting the car drive. The DVD was still playing after the car traveled several hundred meters after the collision until it was stopped by objects in its path. Seems they need to be aggressive about not letting others punt on driveing

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Add an Idiot Filter?

      We in America have a right to drive our cars while texting and talking on our mobes, eating, drinking, masturbating and sleeping.

      We can only be ticketed for speeding.

      Its all part of what makes us great.

      And some of us dead.

      1. Scott 53

        Re: Add an Idiot Filter?

        You missed out shaving

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/09/florida_crash/

        1. Darryl

          Re: Add an Idiot Filter?

          ...and shooting

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Add an Idiot Filter?

      I did wonder if El Reg had run the headline past its lawyers.

      Whatever the circumstances, it wasn't "the car's failure to distinguish between a white trailer and the bright sky" that led to the death of the driver. It might have been the driver's failure to distringuish between sci-fi and reality, or the driver's wish to drive under a truck, but it's hardly the fault of Tesla.

  9. bazza Silver badge

    "Tesla's answer to the height issue is to use its network of cars to build up a database of road signs, bridges and other similar objects using radar to build up a blueprint. The car can then compare that blueprint with the real world as a car travels along the road. If it sees something out of the ordinary, it is far more likely to be a possible obstruction.

    "If several cars drive safely past a given radar object, whether Autopilot is turned on or off, then that object is added to the geocoded whitelist," the company notes."

    Yeah, good luck with that. With every piece of metal littering the road showing up they'll be going down the road at a snail's pace. Radar data processing is a fiendishly difficult job, and clutter processing especially so. They'll be logging every dropped nail, cats eye, soda can on the road.

    Will it see a slab-sided lorry angled across the road as being an obstacle spanning the whole road? Or will it see it as two sets of clutter at either end of the lorry with nothing in between? The F117a is an extremely good example of how flat surfaces don't reflect radio waves back to a monostatic radar if angled just so. The straight metal side of a container lorry (the bit you'll drive into) would have a similar property, but the wheel sets at either end won't.

    Crowd Sourced?

    As no two Teslas will go down the same road following exactly the same path, they're all going to see the clutter environment differently, and very often that'll be completely differently. That's going to play merry hell with building a meaningful clutter map for every part of every road. The necessary in built pessimism could make the system pretty annoying in real world conditions.

    Why not lidar?

    Well, its very expensive (in both equipment and processing costs). But at least you get a good 3D map of the environment. In contrast the type of radar Tesla are using is almost certainly not an imaging radar (such as SAR, scanned phased array, etc). At best it'll be getting a set of returns the range to which will be measured quite well, but the angle to which will be pretty vague. In other words, it won't really know whether something is by the side of the road or right in front of the car. It's a poor man's way of attempting 3D scene reconstruction.

    Doppler

    Doppler processing (if they're doing that) will allow them to tell vehicles from stationary objects. However even that's full of problems. The spokes on a car wheel at the bottom of the wheel are 'stationary' in terms of speed along the road and therefore have the same Doppler shift as something stationary. So they'll look like a set of non-moving objects that magically appear and disappear all the time. That'll make their processing even harder, especially if the spoke return comes and goes (like when the car in front goes round a corner).

    All For Nothing?

    To me this all sounds a bit, well, desperate. I don't see how this combination of sensors can ever be used to produce a reliable system that can be trusted, with or without a bunch of crowd sourced data and any amount of processing. Sure, it's probably better than nothing, but it's not "perfect".

    And thus we return to the fundamental problem; Tesla are selling a car with a fancy cruise control and being honest in saying what it does and how it should be used, but they've given it the name Autopilot. And most people are reading the word "Autopilot" and then not paying any attention to the system's stated limitations.

    This new firmware will also have its limitations, and I think Tesla's tightening up how the car monitors the driver's attentiveness is absolutely necessary. But if that means that people may as well not use it, what's the point of having it in the car in the first place? If it goes badly wrong then it's bad publicity for Tesla. It adds nothing to the car's supposed main appeal (battery powered, stonking acceleration, lots of other tech built in).

    And with Apple (a company with $200billion in the bank) dropping their self driving car project I think that's a sign that serious companies are beginning to go off the idea of a self driving car. It seems like

    * at best it'll be extremely expensive to develop,

    * will likely never be allowed to be fully autonomous, not whilst there's bikes, deer, workmen, dogs, children, motorcycles, pedestrians, etc. on the road too

    * will be a very difficult sell to all sections of the general public (who, in owning mobile phones that suffer endless software problems, would be wondering why a self driving car from the same company would be any better, and will be disappointed to be told that it won't drive them home from the pub)

    * doesn't generate any more useful data on a person that you can't already collect merely by selling them a cheap Android of iOS mobile phone.

    In other words, what's the business plan?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >In other words, what's the business plan?

      Ask Uber.

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      @bazza "...what's the business plan?"

      Good post.

      In summary, "A.I. is hard."

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: @bazza "...what's the business plan?"

        But they won't just use radar, they will use multi-sensor sources and process the combined data.

  10. Magani
    Holmes

    Light bulb moment?

    ""By marketing their feature as 'Autopilot,' Tesla gives consumers a false sense of security," said its VP of consumer policy and mobilization Laura MacCleery."

    I see the penny has finally dropped.

    1. L05ER
      WTF?

      Re: Light bulb moment?

      i wonder why anyone thinks autopilot will do the job for them... name me anything automated that works 100% of the time, without any human guidance or intervention.

      does nobody at the reg understand actual capabilities of a plane's autopilot? why do people think we pay pilots when we have autopilot?

      too many people with more dollars than sense can afford these things is the only problem... not the autopilot system, not lidar, not extra safety features on large trucks...

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Light bulb moment?

        "...understand actual capabilities of a plane's autopilot?"

        The seeming purpose of early Airbus Autopilot system software is to give the writers of the TV series 'Mayday!', a.k.a. 'Air Crash Investigation(s)', plenty of material.

        The producers of this series might as well start a similar series for 'Self-Driving Car Disasters'.

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Light bulb moment?

      Just like how pilots get to cruising altitude, activate autopilot, then flick on harry potter I guess.

      Jokes aside, there is a colloquial usage when you start driving the wrong direction for where you are actually intending going so it does risk drivers believing they can stop paying attention.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Light bulb moment?

      ""By marketing their feature as 'Autopilot,' Tesla gives consumers thickos a false sense of security," said its VP of consumer policy and mobilization Laura MacCleery."

      Fixed it to say what it should say but she couldn't say.

      1. A K Stiles

        Re: Light bulb moment?

        I think Laura MacCleery is the VP of blah blah for Consumer Reports, not for Tesla? Though the phrasing is fairly confusing!

  11. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Pandemic of Depression

    I never realized so many people have a death wish. Why just recently the campaign to prevent concussions in professional sports was in full swing. I really can't understand why that was an issue when so many people wanting driverless cars seem not to mind death.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pandemic of Depression

      I never realized so many people have a death wish. Why just recently the campaign to prevent concussions in professional sports was in full swing. I really can't understand why that was an issue when so many people wanting driverless cars seem not to mind death.

      It shows just how incredibly clever Darwin actually was ..

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Pandemic of Depression

      The sensible thing to do is to pick the safest method, and, um, it turns out that even a flawed and not 100% autonomous system has lower accident rates than us squishy meatbags.

      Except you of course, you are that special snowflake driver who is always 100% alert at all times and has never made a mistake, but for everyone else, the computer is safer.

  12. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "... improving [...] systems using real-world customers [...] as guinea pigs."

    Well, that's software development for you (if my experiences from MS-DOS 2.3 on are anything to go by).

    On a related note, I wonder if I should add one or two of those radar reflectors sold for boats* to my motorbike, just in case.

    * Basically the antithesis of stealth. They are supposed to give something that has a radar signature in the "little-to-none" range a larger signature; in other words make your little plastic sailboat actually register on someone elses's radar screen.

  13. Anonymous C0ward
    Facepalm

    both he and the computer failed to spot the 18-wheel tractor trailer

    I think we call that a Darwin Award.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: both he and the computer failed to spot the 18-wheel tractor trailer

      So what do we call the driver of said tractor-trailer, who either did not see, or ignored the oncoming car and drove across the opposing carriageway resulting in the death of the driver of the car. A man, who is now facing, potentially, charges including vehicular homicide with the commensurate jail-time if found guilty.

      The radar system of the Tesla did in fact identify the obstruction, but the visual recognition software is currently programmed to ignore this type of obstruction, as visually it is similar to overhead road signs, in order to avoid false positive braking events leading to accidents. What we do not, and may never know, is what the driver of the Tesla was doing in the moments leading up to the accident.

      Since the results of the investigation have not yet been published, and are not likely to be, until any court case has been settled. All other aspects of this case at present are idle speculation by those who seem to know little, but should know better.

      As a further point of information, a US study reports:

      "The FARS database from 1994–2010 shows that, over this 17-year period, a total of 30,243 fatalities occurred in light vehicles as a result of collisions with combination trucks. This finding results in an average of 1,779 fatalities per year in light vehicles due to collisions with combination trucks. Of these, 311 fatalities per year were side impacts with a combination truck, and 68 of those fatalities were side underrides. Of the 68 fatalities, 65 were side underrides with PCI."

      Not one of these accidents involved any form of Autopilot software.

      Ref: NCBI, Article number PMC3861811.

      (Anonymous because I am at work)

      "We laugh at the ignorant proles, until we look in the mirror and realise we are one of them."

  14. DougS Silver badge
    WTF?

    "start slowing a car down if they see something that they suspect may cause a collision"

    YOU MEAN IT DIDN'T DO THAT BEFORE?

    Sounds like Tesla is testing alpha software on human lives. Good to know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "start slowing a car down if they see something that they suspect may cause a collision"

      Do *what* before what? Slow down before you suspect there might be a collision?

      That's pretty much how I drive, much to the annoyance of every other road user, so somehow I don't think that's the solution.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: "start slowing a car down if they see something that they suspect may cause a collision"

        Its just common sense. If you are driving down the road and see a couple six year olds playing catch by the side of the road, you slow down in case one of them throws the ball out into the street and the other runs after it without looking.

        A self-driving car can't really "annoy" another self-driving car if it slows down because it detects a situation that could be dicey and decides to slow down, even if the car following it doesn't interpret that situation the same way. And the passengers in the car won't be annoyed, because they won't even be paying attention to what the car is doing, they'll be on their phone, watching a movie, sleeping or whatever else they will do with the time they used to have to spend paying attention to the road.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: "start slowing a car down if they see something that they suspect may cause a collision"

          Its just common sense. If you are driving down the road and see a couple six year olds playing catch by the side of the road, you slow down in case one of them throws the ball out into the street and the other runs after it without looking.

          It's more than common sense, it's due care and attention. And if something happens and you are lacking due car and attention you can find yourself in hot water.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "start slowing a car down if they see something that they suspect may cause a collision"

          Its just common sense. If you are driving down the road and see a couple six year olds playing catch by the side of the road, you slow down in case one of them throws the ball out into the street and the other runs after it without looking.

          Depends. You could also just switch on your windscreen wipers.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "start slowing a car down if they see something that they suspect may cause a collision"

          And the passengers in the car won't be annoyed, because they won't even be paying attention to what the car is doing, they'll be on their phone, watching a movie, sleeping or whatever else they will do with the time they used to have to spend paying attention to the road.

          .. which is the goal of Google doing self driving cars - they want your time to throw ads at you. As I said before, I would not put it past them to lengthen the journey to show ads of those that pay extra.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            I've got no problem with Google showing ads in their self driving cars

            I would never buy such a car, but if Google is willing to sell them for thousands less because of all the years of ad shoveling they'll do, and you're willing to endure those ads for the savings, its none of my business.

            I can almost see the same fanboy debates twenty years from now, where the Google car owners are claiming the Apple car owners are wasting money and buying for looks, and the Apple car owners say part of the reason they're willing to pay extra is not to have ads shoved in their face everywhere they go.

        4. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: "start slowing a car down if they see something that they suspect may cause a collision"

          "Its just common sense. If you are driving down the road and see a couple six year olds playing catch by the side of the road, you slow down in case one of them throws the ball out into the street and the other runs after it without looking."

          It's common sense, but around here people don't use common sense. It's the child's fault for running into the road, so what's the problem, seems to be the thinking here.

          You even get a motorists hitting a cyclists and not stopping because the cyclist hasn't payed "road tax" (no such thing)...

          Just a great attitude all round. Driving like an a-hole seems to be socially acceptable.

  15. Adam 1 Silver badge

    > As road safety experts physicists have said for decadesmillennia, the slower you have a crash, the better.

    Tftfy

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That headline

    I'm a Tesla shareholder, but I like it. :-)

  17. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Musk is a genius. But he is a very optimistic genius. In addition he is a salesman.

    The "auto pilot" has many limitations, and drivers like the one who got killed who thinks it's close to flawless are fooling themselves. YouTube is full of examples of idiots playing with their own and others' life's because they can't be bothered to read the manual. Guess there will always be a percentage who cannot judge risk, and who will always try to kill themselves and others.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The "auto pilot" has many limitations, and drivers like the one who got killed who thinks it's close to flawless are fooling themselves. YouTube is full of examples of idiots playing with their own and others' life's because they can't be bothered to read the manual. Guess there will always be a percentage who cannot judge risk, and who will always try to kill themselves and others.

      I agree. The real genius would be if it was possible to avoid others while the idiots kill themselves. I personally have no objection against some gene pool cleaning, but the side effect of others being harmed or killed is what makes that unfortunately not a winning proposition.

  18. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "it was the car's failure"

    Sorry, but no. It was the drivers' failure to stay alert and in control that caused this regrettable accident.

    Blaming the car, the software or anything else is just trying to justify his unacceptable behavior.

    Until truly self-driving cars exist on the market, it is the driver who is responsible for what his car does, nothing else.

  19. pop_corn

    Everyone seems to have missed the horrifying possibility that was likely narrowly avoided in this story:

    If the roof of the car and head of the "driver" was ripped off, and (maybe?) there are no critical systems in the roof, was there a possibility that the now convertible car and it's headless corpse continued on it's journey on autopilot, until the batteries expired many miles down the road?

    Also, people keep using that "perfect" word.

    Bus travel isn't perfectly safe, but we accept that risk.

    Train travel isn't perfectly safe, but we accept that risk.

    Plane travel isn't perfectly safe, but we accept that risk.

    Self driving cars don't have to be perfect, they just have to be statistically better than humans driving cars, like all other forms of transport are, except space rockets of course (oh the irony!).

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      If YOU drive you know that YOUR driving is what keeps YOU safe. A poor driver makes a mess, a good one, in most cases, will not get involved in a crash.

      If you hand over responsibility to some new system, YOU have no say. Your approach, which may be 100 times safer than the average, is now irrelevant all of a sudden.

      No thanks, I say!

      P.s: No, the sight of a headless driver in a topless car arriving home, not safe and sound, wouldn't be very welcome.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If the roof of the car and head of the "driver" was ripped off, and (maybe?) there are no critical systems in the roof, was there a possibility that the now convertible car and it's headless corpse continued on it's journey on autopilot, until the batteries expired many miles down the road?

      I think you just set back the cause of self driving cars by about a decade :).

  20. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    A total solution ...

    Do a recall (or a s/w update if there's no physical button) that does a global search/replace of the term 'auto pilot' for 'assisted cruise control'. Marketing would get jittery by *nobody* could complain about the muppet behind the wheel getting killed because they were reading a Twatter feed instead of looking at the road.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A total solution ...

      "search/replace of the term 'auto pilot' for 'assisted cruise control'."

      IIRC correctly, the car manual never uses the term "auto pilot" and always refers to it as "assisted cruise control". It's mainly the marketing people who call it auto pilot in press releases and interviews. Even Musk uses auto pilot when talking about it.

  21. tiggity Silver badge

    lack of attention

    On my commute to work I'll do one or more of:

    Read a newspaper

    Watch some multi media content on my phone

    Play games on my phone

    Send a few texts

    Chat

    That's why my commute is by train.

    Driving a car (when autopilot is essentially just an advanced cruise control) but not paying attention (in the case of the DVD watching driver) is suicidal (& selfish as also a chance you could kill other road users / pedestrians).

    If you want to be inattentive on your travels then go by public transport / taxi

  22. TRT Silver badge
  23. ZippedyDooDah

    I fear the day when your car is incapable of judging that the three cars in front of you, driving tail to tail, behind a truck/OAP doing 40 in a 60 are actually possible to overtake all at once.

    The only improvement will be safer stopping distances while we all travel far too slowly for the road/traffic conditions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ZippedyDooDah

      Really? That's the best you can come up with?

      When that day comes the OAP won't be driving and the truck, also self-driving, will pull over because it is a rolling hazard. Everyone in the other cars will be watching DVDs, reading the paper, etc. and not worried about a minute or two lost here and because they don't have to stare at somebody's long forgotten left-on fog lamp or their constant unnecessary braking. The whole line of cars will slow and speed up as one as the cars communicate more quickly, efficiently and accurately than human drivers trying to assess conditions five cars ahead while accommodating the too-fast/too-slow/too-distracted asshole in the car immediately in front.

      Bring it on!! The sooner the better.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Who cares if we "go to slowly" for your taste?

      When the day comes and we can do other things while traveling in autonomous cars, other priorities arise, such as not getting motion sickness. That and low energy consumption will be high priority.

      Got to a track if you feel your inner boy racer must have a go.

      1. Darryl

        The nice part will be the lack of a nutjob at the back of the line who decides to pass 3 or 4 or 5 cars and trucks in a row with no idea what's happening a kilometre up the road, at which point he will still be in the oncoming traffic's lane

  24. AndrewDu

    So they fixed that particular problem.

    Anyone betting on how many other particular problems might exist, which they haven't yet come across?

    AI is hard.

  25. STZ

    Radar is well proven, why has it been ignored by Tesla ?

    My Audi is now more than five years old, and it has a driving assistance system which the manufacturer does not market as an "Autopilot", rather they call it Adaptive Cruise Control. It relies mainly on two Radar antennas mounted at the front of the car beneath the headlights, in addition it leverages a front-looking camera which keeps track of the road markings - the radar adapts to that camera view and looks along the current lane which prevents unnecessary braking when there is a road bend and another car on a neighboring lane.

    The system is very reliable and really convenient when being stuck in a stop-and-go traffic jam, also helps greatly during normal traffic situations, for instance when another driver unexpectedly pulls over into my lane. The system reacts properly also to smaller vehicles on the road (eg. bicycles) and no doubt would detect a big truck crossing the lane ahead. However, I still keep watching the street rather than watching Harry Potter videos while driving.

    I simply can't understand why Tesla did not do proper market research and did not find out how experienced car makers are helping their customers with advanced car assistance systems. Again, my car is more than five years old. How come that Tesla started to build radar antennas into their cars only as late as 2014, and only now starts to take radar somewhat more serious ?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Radar is well proven, why has it been ignored by Tesla ?

      Can we please persuade Audi to change the setting on "Adaptive Cruise Control" to something further than 1 metre at 80MPH?

      1. STZ

        Re: Radar is well proven, why has it been ignored by Tesla ?

        Can we please refrain from untenable statements ? That particular adaptive cruise control has actually three settings for different driving styles. Even the most "dynamic" one has much more safety margin than those idiot drivers who actually drive up to just a few metres, even at more than 200 km/h - without using any assistant systems, and their biochemical brain either ...

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Radar is well proven, why has it been ignored by Tesla ?

        "Audi....1 metre at 80MPH?"

        Clarkson coined the term 'The Full Audi' for this.

        Other makers need to include a reverse firing radar to detect tailgaters. Then automatically vary their own cruise control speed up and down by several kmh, timed to be out-of-phase with the tailgating Audi. Basic Control Theory concludes that applying such out-of-phase feedback into a high gain system creates an oscillator.

        The Audi driver will have to turn it off and go away.

        1. STZ

          Re: Radar is well proven, why has it been ignored by Tesla ?

          Maybe we should keep technology and the personal behaviour of drivers and their preference for diffferent car brands in different countries a bit separate ?

          Seems that in the UK there might be a certain preference by aggressive drivers for car brand A, whereas in Germany those type of drivers were typically more inclined towards car brand B. Gradually the situation improves, you'll now find less aggressive driving and also less drunk driving than in earlier years.

          Driving assistant systems seem to help here. The German government is now also mulling over alcohol sensing devices to prevent drunk drivers from starting their car.

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: Radar is well proven, why has it been ignored by Tesla ?

          I've seen a few systems in various Bond films that would be great for tailgater control.

    2. Starace Silver badge

      Re: Radar is well proven, why has it been ignored by Tesla ?

      We won't mention why Audi moved to twin transceivers plus camera - OK we will, the earlier version with a central transceiver was prone to getting confused by oncoming traffic, corners and other things, plus the vagaries of the interesting range of radar profiles of other traffic such as the stealthy rear end of a mk2 Mondeo saloon which could appear on occasion to have accidentally matched what needed millions for the F117 to achieve.

      It also isn't widely mentioned how the camera positioning has evolved over a short period as real life proved certain engineering assumptions wrong.

      I have to say that the Tesla statement suggests they don't really properly understand how the sensors behave, or the best way to use them, or what is reliable and even things like their iteration rates seem a bit optimistic when you consider what can happen in 100ms at normal traffic speeds. And this assumes they have used a proper certifiable scheduler to drive it.

      You can throw software updates at the thing but their hubristic approach smacks of an Internet startup way of thinking that doesn't match with the sound engineering approach something like this demands.

    3. roytrubshaw
      Coat

      Re: Radar is well proven, why has it been ignored by Tesla ?

      "My Audi is now more than five years old, and it has a driving assistance system which the manufacturer does not market as an "Autopilot", rather they call it Adaptive Cruise Control."

      The VW/Audi/etc. system doesn't do autosteer AFAICS.

      Since you are still steering the car you are less likely to be disengaged from the road conditions in which you are driving. (Though I find myself entering a "fugue state" on older Motorways if I am not careful.)

      If I recall correctly Mercedes and BMW have "lane keeping" assistance features, so they will have some form of autosteer, does anyone know what the accident statistics for these cars are like?

      Possibly the main difference between all the cars with this kind of self-drive ability is the fact that the Musk is so high profile and keeps talking about it?

  26. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Confidence-to-Competence Ratios

    Tesla's Autopilot team has a Confidence-to-Competence Ratio that exceeds unity.

    Volvo has been similar, with their two famous hubris-laced Self-Braking failures. Two videos available on-line. Hubris is standing in front of a prototype. Poster children of attitude based failure. Have they learned? Issued a memo to not stand in front?

    Google seems to be more cautious. More sensors, slower speeds, acknowledged as not yet ready for prime time. I can't see much to complain about their Ratio.

    That Confidence-to-Competence Ratio is what makes some of these folks dangerous.

    An attitude adjustment is necessary.

    They've forgotten that "A.I. is hard."

    Which is really stupid.

    1. STZ

      Re: Confidence-to-Competence Ratios

      Driving assistance systems like adaptive cruise control are certainly ranked below A.I., actually that's a special case of process control technology - just like the autopilot and anti-collision warning systems found in airliners since decades.

      Agreed, blasting such systems into the market without very intensive testing and QA is really stupid. An attitude adjustment is necessary for those companies that don't do it yet, and also for consumers who do believe marketing BS too easily.

  27. Jonathan Richards 1
    Megaphone

    Never mind the Mansfield bars...

    ... why isn't Tesla running out an update which forces cars to obey the posted speed limits?

    My standalone sat-nav will beep at me if I drive faster than a posted speed limit. The engineering problem to hook that up to an EMS is trivial.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never mind the Mansfield bars...

      I've often had the Satnav report incorrect speed limits. It's not unreasonable to have manual over-ride.

    2. Grunchy

      Re: Never mind the Mansfield bars...

      Latest Tesla death (wrecked exotics dot com): Tesla driver going 96 mph on a 50 mph road, explodes into smithereens, burns down to a crisp.

      Tesla company confirms the most crucially important fact: the autopilot system had been disengaged. No fault to the company.

      Cheers!

  28. toughluck

    Inattentive twat behind the wheel

    Do we know how the accident unfolded? How long did it take for the car to drive into the lorry? If it went relatively fast (like one second), the driver might not even have time to react, much less react properly and for the car to actually relinquish control (it doesn't see anything wrong, so there's no emergency to react to at that exact point in time).

    If it took several seconds, then the lorry driver should have noticed something odd and blow the horn (unless he was on assisted cruise control, too).

    I'm unconvinced that Tesla is at absolutely no fault here.

    1. Jonathan Richards 1

      Re: Inattentive twat behind the wheel

      > Do we know how the accident unfolded?

      I read a report of the investigation; the answer is yes, we do, to a certain extent. The long trailer truck was turning across the carriageway in front of the Tesla, so it was a side-on impact, at speed. The truck driver probably mis-estimated the speed of oncoming traffic, if he saw it at all, and the Tesla didn't slow, slicing its roof off on the underside of the truck and continuing on down the road on the other side.

      See e.g. reports at Electrek.

      There are also allegations that the Tesla driver was watching a movie while the car's 'Autopilot' was engaged.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AI

    I suppose it would be unkind to point out that the intelligence of the system is sometimes the closest thing to a sentient being in the cabin?

  30. Lotaresco
    Coat

    Or...

    Drivers could just learn to look through the window in front of their face.

    Nah, that will never happen.

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