back to article Tesla's big news today:
sudo killall -9 Autopilot

Behind the smokescreen of its new onboard hardware announcement, Tesla is quietly killing off its controversial Autopilot feature in its new cars. The money shot is buried in this announcement emitted today titled All Tesla Cars Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware. The blog post is a masterpiece of misdirection …

  1. Mikel

    Seems prudent

    The autopilot is a big feature. But the primary draws for most Tesla drivers isn't autopilot. It's one of: electric car, ridiculous acceleration, Tesla brand.

    I hope they work it out. Either way, it's not like they're going to run out of buyers.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Seems prudent

      Hmmm, judging by some of the opprobrium flying round Tesla forums related to Autopilot's imminent curtailment, it would seem that it (rather than electric, ridiculous acceleration, and Tesla) is the key reason why many owners have bought them.

      It would be kinda cool if it does work out; who wouldn't want a car to drive them home from the pub. But,

      "All Tesla Cars Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware."

      would be false advertising (if used as such). They cannot demonstrate that this is true. It may be something that they can get away with in the US, but in (for example) the UK and a lot of Europe there'd surely be ASA and Trading Standards complaints about such a claim.

      If I were an investor in Tesla I'd be worried about this. It's so unlikely that they will ever deliver a self driving car. They're hyping up the idea now, but it is very likely to result in future disappointment amongst hitherto loyal customers who need to be persuaded to by a new replacement. They're also increasing their production costs today with zero guarantee that it'll ever be worthwhile.

      But by then there's likely to be other competitors in the market (e.g. BMW, Merc, VW, the Japanese manufacturers, etc), and they will be supremely competitive, and they know how to build a higher quality interior.

      They also have the industrial capacity to build an electric car for every market segment, something Tesla are understandably avoiding doing. But that is also dangerous - Toyota have for decades shown that the real money to be made is from well priced, boring, reliable, comfortable and very well made boxes; no-one earns much money from making only rocket ships. You have to go mass market at some point.

      Tesla have only a short while to cement their position as the manufacturer of the longest range electric car with the fastest charging time. If they ever fall behind on that then they're toast. Hyping self driving today is a costly distraction from that goal, especially if (as seems likely) everyone else gives up on the idea and public perception of self-driving becomes forever tarnished.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Seems prudent

        Given they need to train up the self driving systems now with big data, they might come unstuck a couple of years down the line and find that they do actually need more hardware. Legal requirements or something they haven't thought of now (e.g. rear radar).

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Seems prudent

          "Legal requirements or something they haven't thought of now "

          CANBUS and vehicle ethernet mean that as long as you have spare ports and CPU, you can add more tech as needed (including more CPU if needed)

          I hope those cameras are recording at a higher rate and feeding down into the logging system faster than the existing ones do. That would make crash forensics a lot easier even in clotheslining incidents.

      2. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: Seems prudent

        " it would seem that it ... is the key reason why many owners have bought them"

        Are they complaining that it doesn't drive itself, or that the assist features will be going temporarily (in a car that they haven't got?)

        The first group Tesla is better off without, they'll end up hurting the brand.

        The second group I feel a bit sorry for but they've still got their cars.

        It's the owners to be I feel sorry for, losing out because the lawyers got scared.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: "losing out because the lawyers got scared"

          Well Death does have a tendency to be scary.

          1. M7S

            Re: "Death does have a tendency to be scary"

            WHY? I'M ONLY HERE TO STOP THE PLACE FILLING UP. NOLI TIMERE MESSOREM.

            Squeak

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. JetSetJim Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Seems prudent

        I don't think the mainstream press write ups help things...

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-37711489

        The BBC article leads with "Tesla to make all new cars self-driving"

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Seems prudent

          The BBC article leads with "Tesla to make all new cars self-driving"

          Isn't that Tesla's fault though, for the way they worded the press release?

          They're trying to have their cake and eat it. Which in this case is stupid.

          Particularly as self-driving cars aren't going to be legal for the general public for many years to come. Sure there's some limited testing going on, and the tech is likely to come out safer than human drivers, but society tends to be rather conservative about these things. So I can't see it being legal to buy a self-driving car for at least a decade - and probably considerably more. By which time you're likely to have replaced any new Tesla you've bought this year.

          Plus, what if government mandates lidar instead of radar?

      4. Mikel

        Re: Seems prudent

        @bazza

        "Most do" doesn't preclude "many don't" in populations >4.

        They have no hope of scaling production fast enough to meet even half of the demand. Impatient cusses with their hearts set on autopilot NOW and nothing else will just have to buy from one of the many other self-driving car companies. It's not like Tesla needs their business.

    2. Syntax Error

      Re: Seems prudent

      In other words an expensive scalectrics toy.

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Seems prudent

      Apparently the biggest cause of accidents with Tesla drivers is when they drive it out of the showroom not realising what the acceleration is like.

      Sadly my Model S is now too old (end 2014) to get the autopilot. I shall just continue to be my family's "autopilot" instead. Not too sure about why they set the video to the Stones' Paint It Black though.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Seems prudent

        I think the song was to express that this is a dark time as the car learns to drive and that it is doing so in California. It's clearly picked up the typical bad habits seen on Californian roadways.

  2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Have they turned OFF the existing systems yet?

    I guess they're learning the lesson that's been learned over and over and over again since Minsky's time.

    "A.I. is hard." ...Especially in the real world.

    ("hard" is a comedically-vast understatement. It means 'nearly impossible'.)

    1. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Have they turned OFF the existing systems yet?

      "("hard" is a comedically-vast understatement. It means 'nearly impossible'.)"

      It also depends on how you define AI. Computers that could read moving car license plates would have been considered AI only 20 years ago - now they're everywhere. And there are loads of other examples of tech that was once considered AI and now is commonplace. The definition of AI is a moving goalpost , its always what we haven't quite achieved yet. Once self driving cars are on the roads it'll no longer be seen as AI.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Have they turned OFF the existing systems yet?

        "...depends on how you define AI. ...read moving car license plates..."

        Solving the 'moving' part involves an old technology called a shutter (camera shutter). They take picture, or they take dozens. The plate doesn't have to be 'moving' in the picture.

        OCR of a plate isn't life or death. If it was, then the gap between 100% and 99.9% would be on the news every evening, with tens of thousands killed daily.

        The algorithm and OCR neural network is read plates is infinitely tighter scope than 'driving'. Driving is open ended and literally infinitely complicated.

        Optimism in the A.I. field gets punished.

        'A.I. is hard.' Especially in the real world.

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Have they turned OFF the existing systems yet?

          "Solving the 'moving' part involves an old technology called a shutter (camera shutter). They take picture, or they take dozens. The plate doesn't have to be 'moving' in the picture."

          Shutter? They use video cameras, not a SLRs FFS. And I don't think you understand quite how much complex mathematics goes into first finding the plates themselves in the general jumble of each image, then finding and decoding the characters which will almost certainly be at various x,y angles relative to the camera and hence skewed so simple template matching won't work - the skew angles need to be calculated first then everything needs to be normalised before any recognition actually happens. Trust me, this isn't the sort of thing you could have done in real time on even a top end PC 20 years ago.

          "OCR of a plate isn't life or death. If it was, then the gap between 100% and 99.9% would be on the news every evening, with tens of thousands killed daily."

          I never said it was. Voice recognition isn't life or death, but its still a classic AI problem.

          "The algorithm and OCR neural network is read plates is infinitely tighter scope than 'driving'. Driving is open ended and literally infinitely complicated."

          Older recognition systems didn't use neural nets, not sure about the state of the art now. And yes driving is more complex, but moving plate recognition would still have been considered AI back in the day.

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Have they turned OFF the existing systems yet?

            boltar offered "...yes driving is more complex..."

            Yeah, that ---^ . Many orders of magnitude more complex.

            PS. 'shutter' can be read as 'frame grab'. It was to make a complex point in a compact manner, rebutting the 'moving' red herring. My video camera offered 'slow shutter mode', even if it was in a very detailed technical sense virtual. Again, the 'moving' was a red herring. The 'shutter' was a one-word rebuttal demolishing the red herring 'moving'. It wasn't intended to go off into a huge debate about shutters. Anyone dealing with captcha images of house numbers knows that, yes, while the Google car is moving, the resultant captcha image isn't. We could spend weeks debating the red herring 'moving'...

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Have they turned OFF the existing systems yet? 4 boltar

        "Computers that could read moving car license plates would have been considered AI only 20 years ago"

        Only by marketers.

  3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "...and a more powerful computer."

    "...eight cameras, 12 ultrasound detectors, a front-facing radar, and a more powerful computer."

    Don't forget the microphone to hear the sirens of the emergency vehicles giving chase, and to hear the unexpected blood-curdling screams of the mostly fallen-out passenger being dragged by his leg for the past 45 minutes.

    Don't forget to program the rear facing cameras to look for columns of smoke inexplicably always following behind, strangely coincident with sequential loss of various sensors, one after the other. Don't forget to include a software thread named 'Am_I_On_Fire?', because recognizing that one is on fire is a characteristic of intelligence. Not recognizing it is Artificial Stupidity.

    Another software thread called, 'Where's_My_Roof?', just in case history repeats itself. Some aircraft have sensors called Frangible Switches to detect crashes, to trigger emergency systems. Do 'A.I.' cars realized when an unexpected crash has occurred? Loud banging noises even noticed? Sideswipes even registered?

    Software thread 'Why_Is_My_Tire_Wobbling?' Don't forget vibration sensors, in the chassis and the steering system.

    A.I. in the real world requires I/O. Lots of I/O.

    By the time you're done, the final computer will be 100x more powerful than this "more powerful" version.

    This is all so predictable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...and a more powerful computer."

      Your examples are all part of a car driving itself with no passengers at all, which is probably way further off than a self driving car that is carrying passengers who could themselves lookout for the roof coming off and enact an emergency button.

      A modern car today with relatively little computing power has sensor all over the place checking your emissions, tire/tyre pressures, temperatures, pollen ingress, distance from other cars, current speed vs revs, dpf state, multiple temperature sensors. Generally a modern car can tell if something significant is wrong before you do.

      There are currently driverless trains which have to have a certain amount of sensors but don't have a compute that is amazingly powerful. Your house could catch fire, have an aircraft hit it, have a gas leak, have the electrics cause a potentially fatal injury, have a balcony fail etc. However we don't need to have sensors all over the house - just a smoke alarm, and some failsafe breaker switches generally suffice. In fact more sensors (IoT) are generally frowned upon.

      All the (albeit understandably) scaremongering comes from the idea of an out of control or runaway car. However that happens with vehicles today, it's just so rare that it is dismissed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...and a more powerful computer."

        slightly worried about the personal and intrusive nature of some of these: "sensor all over the place checking your emissions"

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: "...and a more powerful computer."

          " slightly worried about the personal and intrusive nature of some of these: "sensor all over the place checking your emissions" "

          Okay, if my car scolds me for farting it might be a real AI.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...and a more powerful computer."

        "...that happens with vehicles today, it's just so rare that it is dismissed."

        One of the lessons learned by young engineers is that basic safety expectations and requirements have changed. There are endless examples of systems that exist today which would never be permitted if they had just been invented.

        Another example is an avionics box on an airplane. It has three known defects, one serious defect that is easy to fix quickly, and two other trivial defects that'll take three years to fix. The Airworthiness regulators that I've dealt with will not permit the quick fix until the other two are also fixed. This effectively delays fixing the more serious defect by years. Which is demonstrably stupid. They're maximizing the risk area under the risk vs time line.

        Self-Driving Cars. It's 2016. They'll not be permitted if they're as safe, or an incremental change. US regulators have already stated that they need to be twice as safe.

        Plus, they need to avoid all daft accidents. Which is a tall order.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: "...and a more powerful computer."

          "There are endless examples of systems that exist today which would never be permitted if they had just been invented."

          I was thinking that whilst standing on the tube today. I suspect we'd have to sit if there weren't years of perfectly reasonable usage with passengers standing.

          I wonder if human car drivers would be allowed if we didn't already have them ?

    2. Neil Alexander

      Re: "...and a more powerful computer."

      "Do 'A.I.' cars realized when an unexpected crash has occurred?"

      Non-AI cars know when they've been crashed. How do you think airbags are deployed?

      Also see Volvo pedestrian airbags, which deploy even if a human is hit without the front-end being damaged or crumpled.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "...and a more powerful computer."

        NA "Non-AI cars know when they've been crashed."

        The infamous Tesla 'Truck Not Sky' accident seemed to hint that the car was unaware of the crash even after the crash. The car continued on, as opposed to slamming on the brakes.

        ...Based on reports.

        Main small point: A.I. for self-driving cars will need microphones. Anyone believing that an A.I. can be aware of its surroundings without hearing sirens, banging noises and screaming people is not thinking clearly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...and a more powerful computer."

        If a car could detect unexpected crashes id have it monitoring Windows Servers while I drive. I wish they'd hurry up and write a plugin to put a space in the reason box and click ok though.

        I hate taking my hands off the wheel on the motorway. Frightens the passengers.

    3. Indolent Wretch

      Re: "...and a more powerful computer."

      Your absolutely right I'm also pretty sure it's been scientifically proven that a human being travelling over 30 miles an hour always suffocates. This progress must be stopped!

      1. Uffish

        Re: "This progress must be ..."

        We all want progress (I think) but please, don't test out your algorithms on the roads I drive on. Where I drive the slow, ultra-safe Google cars would be a public nuisance and the Tesla cars wouldn't have the needed reactivity.

        1. Alan_Peery

          Re: "This progress must be ..."

          That's just NIMBY in a different place. It has to be tested *somewhere* even for the difficult cases, so why should your roads be special?

          There is also no indication that Teslas running under autopilot features are more dangerous than other cars under human piloting.

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: "This progress must be ..."

            AP offered up a Trump-like Post-Truth factoid "There is also no indication that Teslas running under autopilot features are more dangerous than other cars under human piloting."

            Tesla Autopilot 1.0 couldn't distinguish a truck from sky. That's unacceptable. Full stop.

            The basis of comparison isn't the fleet of legacy cars. The proper basis of comparison is a modern car with all the latest safety features (including the latest crash avoidance features).

            Nobody is going to permit the basis of comparison to be the legacy fleet. It doesn't work that way for pollution standards, other safety requirements, crash standards, CAFE fuel standards, or anything else. Musk knows this. He's BS'ing you with those marketing claims.

            The question is: do we allow the extra step of allowing the driver to stop driving, pop a movie into his portable DVD player, and let the car do the driving? Will that be safer? We're a long way from that.

            A.I. is hard. Especially in the real world.

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "...and a more powerful computer."

        IW "Your absolutely right..."

        You're --^

        Progress is good.

        Over-optimistic naivety resulting in Tesla Autopilot 1.0 not seeing a truck is not good.

        These lessons about how "A.I. is hard" goes back to the dawn of A.I. with Minsky.

        Anyone that goes into such a project without knowing this is, frankly, an uneducated moron.

  4. hypernovasoftware

    Gee, I wonder if the buyers will be compensated after purchasing a vehicle with non-working features?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They sure will! In 5 years time, with a $20 off your next Tesla voucher, if they can provide proof of purchase and email evidence indicating they were planning to rely on the Autopilot feature. And once the lawyers have been paid off, naturally.

      1. King Jack
        Go

        Sony is that you?

        No need to hide behind a mask, name Sony for the PS3 feature removal. Tesla look to be take lessons.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @hyper

      I'm not sure of course, but considering Tesla's eagerness to sue television shows which shared negative opinions about their cars I wouldn't be surprised at all if they got this legally covered as well. Something tells me they have to, I don't think they can afford to get sued over a malfunctioning auto pilot for example...

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Re: @hyper

        Check the fine print - it'll be there. Bet.

        A kind of you own the car but lease the software kind of thing - Windows 10 without the mediacenter you once purchased. You know ;)

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "...purchasing a vehicle with non-working features?"

      Puh, it's just a wee bit of software. A.I. software. Software projects are easy, especially those involving A.I. and neurotic networks.

      Seeing as how it needs to be planned, documented and developed to some process resembling DO-178B or C, DAL perhaps A or B, so maybe ten lines of code a day per qualified coder drone, typically.

      So 250GB of tight code, at 500 bytes per Coder Drone day, it should be ready for beta release just in time to get tangled up in the Y10K problem.

      Oh, and you'll need an EVEN MORE (cubed) powerful computer.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: "...purchasing a vehicle with non-working features?"

        @JeffyPoooh,

        "Seeing as how it needs to be planned, documented and developed to some process resembling DO-178B or C, DAL perhaps A or B,"

        Quite.

        The automotive industry has for years been "avoiding" this issue. They use the MISRA rule set for C programming as a means to justify claims that their software is "safe". The problem is that i) MISRA is more like smoke and magic than hard proof of correctness ii) MISRA tool chains that I've used are perfectly capable of compiling correct source code to junk object code that doesn't implement the source code (it was optimisation bugs), iii) there's no guarantee that their C libraries are themselves MISRA compliant. In fact one I've used most definitely was not MISRA compliant in its C library's source code, and the C library was buggy. Yet it had a tick box labelled 'MISRA', was and still is widely and highly regarded throughout the community.

        Of course non of that has mattered, because in all cars actual safety has been provided by everything ultimately being mechanical or hydraulic, with software not taking a primary role in car control.

        But with things like self-driving? Yep, the applicable standards have indeed got to be things like DO-178B, etc.

        "so maybe ten lines of code a day per qualified coder drone, typically. So 250GB of tight code, at 500 bytes per Coder Drone day, it should be ready for beta release just in time to get tangled up in the Y10K problem."

        Neat way of providing investment guidance!

        An industry rule of thumb I picked up some time ago was more like 1 single line of code per coder per day across an entire software project of this type. After the design and specification is done the PMs would estimate the size of a project and do their cost estimation that way. And that was on systems that had to be correct but were still human supervised. I dread to think how slow a true safety critical piece of software such as a self driving car would be.

        Of course the self driving guys know this. So they're spinning up arguments in favour of rapidly developed code being approved as safe from usage statistics to grandfather their systems into autonomous use. Kinda like "it's not gone wrong yet in our trials, so therefore it must be OK for all eternity". Accepting code in this way would be unprecedented in the history of safety critical systems and transportation. There'd also be the potential for a systemic and hitherto unidentified fault causing mass carnage and the world's most expensive law suit.

        Personally speaking I find the industry's statistical argument for what a "safe" self driving car would be somewhat distasteful and implausible. Saying that it's as safe as the "average driver" is nuts; it'd mean that many passengers would statistically speaking be worse off. Terrific. The trouble is the people who will decide what's allowed or made compulsory aren't used to thinking 'personal'; they look at nationwide or insurance statistics, and see profit in reduced costs.

        Fortunately the State of California has published Google's test results, and they don't make for encouraging reading from Google or any other self driver's point of view. Google's data, if squinted at only slightly, implied an accident every 1500-ish miles had their cars been fully autonomous and unsupervised. Not a very good statistic in favour of approving full autonomy.

  5. frank ly

    Plastic functionality

    "... we will enable them over-the-air, together with a rapidly expanding set of entirely new features."

    Can they also be disabled over-the-air? I wonder if Tesla have protections against MITM and other attacks on their communication security/validation.

    I assume that Tesla owners will get an e-mail (or something) to tell them in advance that their car will have new features. Will they be able to opt out?

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Plastic functionality

      "...also be disabled over-the-air?"

      Wait until the NHTSA is finished their 'Truck, Not Sky' investigation.

      They'll likely require Autopilot 1.0 be disabled, or use massively restricted.

  6. Donchik

    Hardly surprising!

    With Ford, GM etc. sinking billions into this money pit, It's not a surprise that Tesla's little operation has not been able to crack this.

    The reason the big players are not already in the marketplace appears obvious, with current technology it's not safe enough for them or their legally equipped customers.

    Tesla have been gambling with their customer's lives, and any other road user or pedestrian who is unlucky enough to run into them (sic)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Switched Off?

    I don't see anywhere in the article that says the existing auto-pilot will be switched off, only that cars with the new hardware will not have it switched on to start with.

    So my reading says that while the new hardware is learning, the old hardware and existing cars will continue to function with the existing technology.

    Some one please point out to me what I am missing here.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Switched Off?

      "only that cars with the new hardware will not have it switched on"

      Correct.

      C.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Switched Off?

      You're not missing anything. The current users of "Autopilot" are the beta testers for the new users.

      Think of them like royal food tasters. They get to eat a lot of very nice food not otherwise available to men of their class, it's just that every so often one of them drops dead.

      1. Alan_Peery

        Re: Switched Off?

        Rather the opposite of that. "It's just the every so often one of the meals gives them superpowers." Superpowers like automatic braking that avoids an otherwise occurring collision.

    3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Switched Off?

      NHTSA hasn't yet finished their 'Truck, Not Sky' investigation.

      My opinion is that the primitive Autopilot 1.0 will be either disabled by order, or retrofitted *and* tightly restricted by order.

      It'd be shocking if they allowed it to remain status quo.

  8. WereWoof

    "...including some standard safety features such as automatic emergency BREAKING . ." Sighs

    1. Magani
      Joke

      Probably correct

      ...automatic emergency BREAKING...

      If you hit something solid while having an emergency in a vehicle, something will probably break.

    2. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      That's to distract you from "...including some STANDARD safety features..."

      If they're standard, why disable them? Fords have lane control, Toyotas have automatic emergency braking...The difference is they're called "Driver assist" rather than "Autopilot"

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Because of the bad headlines. It's sad really, some really good tech gets built and a few idiots use it badly. Newspapers write headlines, politicians spout their mouths of and big business lobby. Then the layers gets scared and the product cancelled.

        Autopilot seems to do what it promises to do, just people want more than it promises.

        A few retards expect a self driving car and we all lose out.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Mushroom

          Adam 52,

          In my opinion, the retards were the ones who called an improved cruise control system "Autopilot".

          They were deliberatly lying about what their system did, some of their customers believed the hype - though ignoring the warnings in tiny print, and now they're in the shit, and flailing. As they fully deserve to be.

    3. CT

      It seems to be correctly "braking" on the Tesla original article. Unless they corrected it since Reg copy+pasted it?

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Go

    Think of it as DevOps for IoT

    System is in audit mode at present.

    Review logs

    Update parameters

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Think of it as DevOps for IoT

      You forgot the first line:

      Re-learn everything with new non-Mobileye hardware.

  10. SimonC

    I haven't decided yet if I would prefer to drive myself and blame any avoidable accents on myself, or if I would like to drive much more safely via autopilot but know that if there is a crash it's because of something completely random like the camera detecting a muddy puddle as a fence post and driving me off a cliff.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      As my eyesight is too poor to be allowed to drive, self-driving cars are an obvious temptation for me. Though sadly I'm convinced that when the law is first changed to allow them you'll still require a full driving license and to be sober. Then they'll be rather expensive, and so I've still got many years to wait before I get to be able to drive wherever I want. I'm sure there'll be self-driving taxis, but I bet they don't end up all that much cheaper than human driven ones.

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      > I haven't decided yet if I would prefer to drive myself and blame any avoidable accents on myself

      I read that and imagined you being stopped by traffic police equipped a "scouse-alyser" that can detect alcohol and a Liverpudlian accent at the same time. :-)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wot! No rear facing Radar?

    This would be the big safety thing. Just to stop 'White Van Man' {99.99% men driving} from tailgating you at 70mph down the M40 as the rain comes down in stairrods as happened to me on Sunday Morning.

    Naturally this has to be connected to a bazooka or some other weapon possibly a testosterone nuke ray.

    Then there is the device to nuke the drivers who hog the middle lane and will never go into lane 3 to overtake slower traffic this side of kingdom come.

    TBH, the issue of the Autopilot/driver assist is one of Tesla's own making.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Wot! No rear facing Radar?

      @AC +

      A rear facing radar would enable the detection of fast approaching vehicles much earlier than with ultrasonic detectors.and, if a lane manoeuvre is deemed necessary, to be performed in a timely manner.

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Wot! No rear facing Radar?

      Maybe check the type of car the middle lane "hog" has.

      I have a less than 1000 cc car, I often find myself in lane 2 (with lane 1 full of slow 56 MPH limited lorries)

      However lane 3 traffic tends to be full of people driving way in excess of the 70 MPH limit and for me to safely overtake a vehicle holding me up in lane 2 (given the poor acceleration of my small engine car) I need either:

      a) A nice big gap in lane 3 so I can execute the overtaking manouvere, likelihood of this on busy UK motorway essentially zero.

      b) Pull out into lane 3 small gap and hope nearest boy racer type is actually paying enough attention to slow down and avoid rear ending me. This relies on an almost insane degree of trust in the good driving of someone who is already flouting the speed limit massively.

      Given the inherent dangers of b, then this is a contributory factor as to why you often get clogged middle lane, and why so many of those cars are not high performance vehicles...

      I prefer Motorways with always on speed cameras, in that scenario there is not the ludicrous speed differentials between lane 2 & 3 so it is actually safe to overtake by moving from lane 2 to 3 in my weedy acceleration car without imminent risk of collision due to inattentive lane 3 driver.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Wot! No rear facing Radar?

        "I prefer Motorways with always on speed cameras"

        So you prefer the drivers around you to concentrate their attention on one small aspect of road safety at the expense of watching what's happening around them?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wot! No rear facing Radar?

          So you prefer the drivers around you to concentrate their attention on one small aspect of road safety at the expense of watching what's happening around them?

          Actually, that's what I use cruise control (no, not Tesla's Autopilot) for - to keep me at a sane speed and keep my licence additive-free. If I set it to 60/70/whatever, I know that Plod won't worry me and I can look out for all the wacko boy racers.

        2. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Wot! No rear facing Radar?

          Well given the allowed margins on the speed li mit (+10% and a little I think in the U.K.) any idiot who fi nds it difficult without constantly checking their speedo should not be on the motorway. Controlled (and their supplement, variable speed limits) also improve road capacity and safety. ANd there is research. (TRL is one source) that demonstrates measurable effects. Can you point at something other than your prejudice or other anecdotal evidence that continuous monitoring or average speed areas are detrimental? Or are you mistaking it with the need to take telephone calls, send texts and react after being woken up by your GPS programmed with camera locations?

          1. Indolent Wretch

            Re: Wot! No rear facing Radar?

            It's just the old "i'm a brilliant driver stop making me less safe by telling me I have to obey the speed limit" gambit. I find it's normally trotted out at some point by about 80% of drivers.

    3. FredBloggs61
      FAIL

      Re: Wot! No rear facing Radar?

      99.99% men?

      Really?

    4. Kiwi Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Wot! No rear facing Radar?

      Naturally this has to be connected to a bazooka or some other weapon possibly a testosterone nuke ray.

      I've often wondered what effect a suitably mounted magnetron (from at least a 1200watt microwave, and with appropriate waveguide) pointing rearwards. Would it have enough output to cause interesting things to happen to the electronics of any tailgating vehicle? Or would the metal work of the front of the tailgater be enough to act as a shield? Or is the output of a magnetron completely unsuitable for such work, and I'd be better off with some sort of rather large rear-facing electromagnet (idea to induce excess current in the vehicles wiring).

      Of course, with the rather idiotic modern lack of direct physical link between the steering/brakes etc, such a device could get me some hefty jail time as it could do far more than just cause the engine of the offending vehicle to fail.

      Wonder if I could create a rear-facing flame thrower with a rather thin flame yet capable of covering the distance. That could cause people to back off quickly...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are shades of Sony in this

    Remember the Linux feature in the Sony Playstation that was suddenly removed?

    If it was in the brochure and the sales talk when I buy something I want it to remain, wether it's physical or electronic - that should be my decision to make, not the supplier, because in Tesla's case that's like buying a car with nice alloy wheels and getting it back after the next service on steel rims with cheap plastic covers and claiming that's all OK. I get that the feature is not perfect, but I am of the opinion that any EXTRA safety assistance is always worth it (I don't subscribe to the apparent theory that it would replace what you already have to do as a driver).

    It would be part of what I buy and frankly, this seriously puts me off Tesla because that happened without ANY detectable discussion with or input from customers. No thank you. It's a good thing I was still evaluating what to buy next - that's not going to be a Tesla now. I'll check in a few years when the car I'm buying now needs replacing again.

    1. jzl

      Re: There are shades of Sony in this

      Read my post below. Tesla is not switching off Autopilot for existing customers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There are shades of Sony in this

        Yes, you're right, and now I have done more than just scan read I should correct myself because fair is fair: I was wrong.

        What is really happening is that they're augmenting what is effectively a software emulation of self driving with new, dedicated hardware. The downside is that not all of the features will be possible in software (it simply needs that hardware and it's too costly to retrofit), which is where the planned limitations of the software come in play.

        The upside is that the new hardware will be substantially improving on something that is already pretty good in software alone so it's worth the wait. And I'm going to hold off on buying a new car - I'm going to give this a few months first.

  13. jzl

    Good grief

    What a load of cobblers, both in the article and in the comments.

    For the commentards: Tesla is not disabling Autopilot. Cars that have it will keep it. Cars that are being built now will get it via a software update in a few months.

    For Richard Chirgwin: The point here is that Autopilot is a fleet learning AI. The old autopilot code was activated months after cars that first had the hardware hit the roads. The reason was that the neural nets need huge amounts of data to train.

    The same is true of the new hardware. Clearly the difference in hardware means that the old training can't be used, so they're going to have to collect data for a while.

    And finally, as has been pointed out many times, human drivers are terrible. Anything that can improve that (and Autopilot has an excellent record) will save lives.

    Full disclosure: I have a Model S on order but not yet in production and am pleased that I will be among the first to receive the new hardware.

    1. pop_corn

      Re: Good grief

      Agreed. All this bleating about "autopilot" not being perfectly safe is completely missing the point.

      Let's just say it: people will die in Tesla's that are on "autopilot", probably each and every year from now. There'll be a steady stream of news stories announcing it and bleating about it. But that's not the point.

      LESS people will die that would have done. That's the point! Eventually Tesla deaths will be common, just like Ford deaths, Toyota deaths, BMW deaths etc etc, and the news outlets will get bored of running the same old story.

      Do you think the papers of the day weren't scattered with "Ford Model T Driver Dies in Crash!" headlines? Of course they were, now we're just used to it because it happens every day, well not the "Model T" bit. ;)

      It's the same argument for Fracking. Fracking will never be 100% safe and environmentally sound... just like every other form of power generation. It just has to be better than what we've got at the moment.

      1. dajames Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Good grief

        LESS people will die that would have done.

        So ... you're saying that the people who will die will be smaller people than those who might otherwise have died?

        Or did you mean FEWER?

    2. Anna Logg

      Re: Good grief

      "And finally, as has been pointed out many times, human drivers are terrible. "

      No we're not. A quick mental calculation and I reckon my personal driving success rate (i.e. arriving at my destination without having an accident) is around 99.99%, and I reckon I'm pretty average. The huge majority of vehicle journeys are completed without incident....and Google's autonomous cars can manage a mere 1500 miles between accidents, it seems. I'll stick with 'terrible' human drivers, thanks.

      1. Geoff Campbell
        WTF?

        Re: and Google's autonomous cars can manage a mere 1500 miles between accidents

        Cobblers. Where do you get this rubbish?

        GJC

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Good grief

      The assumption that autonomously driven vehicles are much safer isn't proven. It looks great on PowerPoint presentations and cartoons, but so does Communism. The difference is that we know that Communism as practiced by the USSR and some other countries does not work.

      Like human drivers, some software will do better and some will go horribly wrong. Who will set the standards and certify new autonomous cars? Will it be left to the manufacturers or will it be required that third party labs conduct testing to rational regulations?

      My record (over a fair bit of time, I'm sad to say) has been great. The dents in my current car are from shopping trolleys and other people doors in a car park.

  14. lukewarmdog

    This won't really work until everyone has better cars.

    It's going to be a lot easier for the on-board computers to stay a distance of x away from the car in-front/behind/at both sides when they can talk to the computers in all those other cars. Until then the AI is expected to keep you safe whilst surrounded by unpredictable human driven cars. That's too tall an order in my opinion. If I crash my car into yours we blame each other and our insurance sorts it out. If my AI car crashes into you, it's all over the media, the manufacture goes out of business, prices skyrocket, blame is allocated to the AI.. autopilot is the worst thing to offer drivers as history has shown.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Until then the AI is expected to keep you safe whilst surrounded by unpredictable human driven cars."

      And even then, should that come to pass, it will have to deal with other unpredictable elements of the environment, human and otherwise.

    2. censored

      Sadly, they're unlikely to ever 'talk' to each other, because every manufacturer is sinking money into a proprietary system and no-one is working on a unified protocol.

    3. W4YBO

      "This won't really work until everyone has better cars."

      I don't think I want my car's actions to be dependant on what another car tells it it's going to do. Comms between cars opens another soft spot for bad actors to exploit. I'd prefer reasonable separations between vehicles, and my car's AI to begin to react within microseconds of detecting a change in its vicinity. That'll avoid both Bubba and Bambi.

      I had a thought while reading this article that the little ultrasonic cavitators I use in a Halloween display would probably strike most ultrasound transducers deaf. If I happen to lift them out of their water bath, my dogs leave the room.

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: "This won't really work until everyone has better cars."

        Yup, we need all our Vipers to be at Mark VII level.

    4. Anna Logg

      "This won't really work until everyone has better cars."

      Plus motorcycles, lorries, buses etc.

  15. Syntax Error

    No Apple Car

    Seems Apple may of decded to get out of the electric car/self-drive car business.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-19/end-road-apples-self-driving-car.

    Unless you want a mobile living room or bedroom what is the point of owning a self-drive car?

    1. cbars

      Re: No Apple Car

      What is the point in a self driving car???

      How about:

      Early morning flight meaning you don't have to lose as much sleep (ok, you caveated that but still)

      Long commute so you can work in the car and spend less time in the office

      Come on! Pub Trip!

      Woman in Labour

      Sneezing fits!

      Socialising with the passangers (/children) more

      Get a life, mate, there's loads of amazing possibilites when you do not have to do monotonous tasks.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: No Apple Car

        "What is the point in a self driving car???" etc.

        Flying Cars have a similar long list of striking advantages.

        1. W4YBO

          Re: No Apple Car

          "What is the point in a self driving car???" etc.

          I'll bet the AI reads the drivers license manual more than once in its lifetime.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Apple Car

      Unless you want a mobile living room or bedroom what is the point of owning a self-drive car?

      There are a couple of arguments for self drive, and not all of them have to do with hopefully more safety.

      First of all the driver itself: this would make driving possible for people without a driving license, because of being incapable, incapacitated, disabled or of the wrong age to safely drive. One of the main challenges of public transport is that it is MASS transport, with a self driver you could individualise transport without making it directly tied to ownership or qualifications - basically a taxi but without a human.

      Next is where you'd drive: one of the simplest, yet most fun things you could do is have the car park itself. There are places where parking is assured as long as you're prepared to queue for a while - why not let the car do that while you spend your time shopping? The more people do this, the fewer cars will actually queue because by the time the car has entered the garage you're already there with your shopping so it would only spend minutes parked while you load it up (and Tesla has already demonstrated intelligent parking to the point that it even recognises and avoids signs for disabled parking - I hope that's configurable otherwise they won't get many purchases from disabled people :) ).. On motorways you end up with another function which Tesla should implement: intelligent linkup (yes, that protocol needs to be more open, but at the same time you need security for it). Teslas could form an "active row" on the motorway, syncing up their driving. I don't know if you've ever read studies on how to prevent stop/start queues, but that all has to do with intelligent pacing. Teslas could do that automatically, and as a result reduce the dangers of stop/start by their sheer presence.

      There is a LOT that can be done with self driving which we as humans are either not predisposed to, not patient enough or simply don't communicate and react quickly enough for, but we haven't even reached the state where we have a reasonable decision tree yet for the AI that has to do the driving. Once we have something workable I think things may become very interesting indeed.

    3. Martin
      Headmaster

      Re: No Apple Car

      "Seems Apple may of decded..."

      I think "Seems Apple may have decided..." is a bit more elegant.

      I'm prepared to believe that "decded" was a typo. But "may of" is just appalling.

  16. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    How do you audit and qualify a neural net?

    Even with this fleet learning approach, they're STILL underestimating the scope.

    A few years from now, it'll become obvious that the neural net weightings somehow missed (for example) children in striped pink and green rain coats (the latest fashion trend, circa 2021).

    There have been examples where carefully trained neural nets didn't actually learn what they thought that they'd learned. A bit like the batch of official and certified 'Drug Sniffing Dogs' that had accidentally (?) been trained to officially 'indicate' on minorities.

    They'd better spend time with new (nonexistent) tools similar to Google Dream which provide some human auditable visual representation of what the neural network has actually been trained to recognize. If they do this, then it'll, quite reasonably, delay roll out for years.

    1. jzl

      Re: How do you audit and qualify a neural net?

      "A few years from now, it'll become obvious that the neural net weightings somehow missed (for example) children in striped pink and green rain coats (the latest fashion trend, circa 2021)."

      All of that is true, and all of it misses the point.

      The point is that human drivers are not perfect. Autonomous driving doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be as good or better than the humans.

      1. Geoff Campbell
        Go

        Re: How do you audit and qualify a neural net?

        Quite so - "better than the meatsacks" is a very low bar to clear. More importantly, should it turn out that kids in stripey jumpers are an edge case, every autonomous car will learn about them within minutes.

        Try that with human drivers. Just getting them to admit that they aren't perfect drivers is an impossible task.

        GJC

        1. Anna Logg

          Re: How do you audit and qualify a neural net?

          "Quite so - "better than the meatsacks" is a very low bar to clear"

          No it isn't. Like I said, I reckon, as an imperfect driver, I have around a 99.99% journey success rate; if it wasn't that order of magnitude for pretty much everybody, every journey I make would be littered with accidents...and they're not.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: How do you audit and qualify a neural net?

        jzl offered "The point is that human drivers are not perfect. Autonomous driving doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be as good or better than the humans."

        I don't think so. You've fallen into the same flawed logic as others.

        Collision avoidance features are already trickling down into mainstream cars. Such features do achieve significant safety improvements. Those features add value (safety) with no significant downside. Even Tesla's Autopilot 1.0 gains benefits such as automatic emergency braking.

        That's the new basis of comparison.

        Proponents of the next step, the self-driving capabilities, must demonstrate that having the human in the 'driver seat' watching a Harry Potter movie instead of participating somehow improves safety by a mandated 2:1 ratio, as compared to the equivalent latest cars with the latest safety systems.

        You're not allowed to compare your offering to the mixed-age legacy fleet. It doesn't work that way for any other regulated parameter.

        So your claim "just has to be as good or better than the humans" is FALSE.

        Self-Driving cars need to be twice as good (<- US regulator stated this) as compared with the latest cars where advanced safety features are increasingly standard.

      3. Grunchy

        Re: How do you audit and qualify a neural net?

        "Autonomous driving doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be as good or better than the humans."

        Oh - you think so?

        You think WRONG.

        Letting loose robots into the world to kill somewhat less people than already happens accidentally today - NFG. Whoever dares to try this, Elon Musk, you're gonna pay dearly.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    « The blog post is a masterpiece of misdirection »

    Says a redtop journo.

    Where is the misdirection? Where is the conspiracy? And most of all, where is the investigative work? You've just copied the press release and told us they're trying to hide something.

    You could at least have called them and asked why things like adaptive cruise control and lane keeping are shipping disabled on new cars (I suspect I know why, but I would be only speculating). That would have had a modicum of informative value, beyond what I could already read in a generalist Spanish-language newspaper before your copypasta was even published here.

    Richard, you really need to try harder.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Incompetent Jurno!

    I'm not a Tesla fanbois but this is what happens when a jurno writes an article which they either a) have no background knowledge, and/or b) were too busy playing Pokemon Go during the press conference.

    Autopilot is not being killed off. It's not available initially in the Gen 2 sensor suite cars because of the split with MobileEye, which provided the technology in the Gen 1 sensor suite. So Tesla are having to develop their own software for the Gen 2 sensor suite. In fact Elon specifically said during the press conference that the Gen 2 cars would have feature parity with the Gen 1 Autopilot by early 2017... and then continue to have more features enabled going forward.

    Tesla also demonstrated fully autonomous driving at https://www.tesla.com/en_CA/videos/full-self-driving-hardware-all-tesla-cars.

  19. dsupple78

    As a Model 3 pre-order type, will this tech change my mind about my order? Nope, I already have a Renault Zoe, and I like the clean living, great acceleration, no fumes outside the school gate, 2p a mile effect. So I'm well and truly bought into the EV model.

    Will the fact that my £1000 deposit against a US ($) built car that costs £35,000 in the UK, now probably cost me 15% more from post Brexit currency fallout AND most probably end up with an additional 10% WTO tariff on top make me think twice? Damn right it will.

  20. Grunchy

    Still no LIDAR

    My Dodge has one backup camera, but it's dirty and doesn't give a good view these days.

    One day I need to find the windex and give it a wipe.

    Imagine having 8 cameras to keep clean. Also, presumably you wouldn't be allowed to look through the 8 cameras and determine to your own satisfaction if they're clean or not.

    Also, let's say you're out self-driving somewhere, and somehow the car splashes itself in the mud and dirties one or more of its cameras. Would you know? Would it recognize the issue? Would it pull over & ask you to give it a wipe?

    Would you have the windex on hand to deal with it?

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Still no LIDAR

      Would it pull over & ask you to give it a wipe?

      Somehow that reminds me of a joke where a horse, in sight of the destination city, stops suddenly. Instead of the normal routine it shakes it's head then blows.....

  21. Grunchy

    HEY

    Hey what about perfecting something a little less problematic such as self-driving trains first?

    The track seems to be a relatively simple, fixed environment.

    We already have self-driving mining trucks, self-driving harvesters and combines. Soon we'll have self-driving freighter vessels, etc. Rockets are already self-driving, mostly.

    Hey you know what I want, I want a self-driving airliner. No more Andreas Lubitz!

    My vacuum cleaner is basically self-driving. My dog, if he gets loose, he's more-or-less self-driving.

    Etc!

  22. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Most cost, no value.

    So let's get this straight. Tesla Motors is going to fit all of the cars they sell with hardware that can't currently be used. Estimates are that this will add $2k-$3k to the cost to build the car.

    The problem I see is that when the software/regulations are ready, the hardware may be insufficient or obsolete. This has all of the makings of a giant PR stunt to try and get the stock price up before the vote on the TSLA/SCTY merger. This isn't an ethernet switch where the software can be unlocked to add more features. It's hardware doing nothing that might go wrong only to generate an error code that requires a visit to the mechanic. Kinda like an appendix.

  23. Louis Schreurs BEng

    HARDware

    ONboard HARDware; so the board is software?????????

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