back to article Oi, Elon: You Musk sort out your Autopilot! Tesla loyalists tell of code crashes, near-misses

Tesla CEO Elon Musk asked the Tesla owners among his millions of Twitter followers last week what aspect of their electric cars they'd most like to see improved or fixed. Among the 24,000 or so replied, there's a fair amount of concern about Autopilot, the assistive driving software in Tesla Model S cars. The first reply came …

  1. 45RPM Silver badge

    Whisper it…

    The sad truth is that Tesla cars aren’t actually very good. It shouldn’t be surprising that they’re aren’t good cars - Tesla has grown remarkably quickly, and the technology hasn’t had a chance to mature. The result is that some parts, notably the batteries, are excellent, some are undercooked (the software isn’t ready yet) and others are shoddy (for the price, build quality springs to mind).

    The biggest problem though is the cult of personality surrounding Elon Musk - he’s always chasing what’s sexy and newsworthy, which is why Tesla’s are so quick (sexy), push autopilot although it isn’t ready (newsworthy), have unnecessary toys and eastereggs (sexy - for geeks, anyway), and end up in space (sexy sexy). Tesla’s focus is not on safety, except when necessary to comply with the law - and sometimes not even then.

    The Tesla is a gadget. It isn’t a good car - although it might become one one day. The problem Tesla has is that traditional car manufacturers already produce very good cars and some are even surpassing Tesla on technology. So all Tesla is left with is the games and Easter Eggs - neither of which are foremost in my mind when I choose a vehicle.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Whisper it…

      You're right. That's that out of the way! :)

      What Tesla has done, though, is make electric cars acceptable. Every time the established manufacturers have tried to make one they've been unmitigated shit (G-Wiz). Or they've been leased and then snatched back when everyone liked them (EV-1).

      The customers didn't want electric cars because the manufacturers said they couldn't be cool.

      "Hold my beer" - Tesla Roadster

      The customers didn't want electric cars because the manufacturers said they couldn't be comfy.

      "Hold my beer" - Tesla Model S

      The customers didn't want electric cars because the manufacturers said they couldn't have a long range.

      "Hold my <burp> beer" - 400 miles

      The customers didn't want electric cars because the manufacturers said they couldn't be fast.

      "Hold my bu... Hang on - Beer. Yeah." - Ludicrous Speed

      Sure, some of these are trinkets, but it's attacking peoples' concerns head-on. Model X is a bit of a pig, in my opinion, and they overcomplicated the doors. That said, the pop-out door handles on the S were done better by Aston Martin - just a pivot. But beyond that, Tesla have shown that an electric car *can* be as good as a petrol car.

      Sure there are fringe cases where people need to cover 800 miles a day. There are people who work away from roads, away from charging points, and who really need a Land Rover to get around. But the thing that Tesla have done is show that these are the edges of the bell-curve now.

      They've burned through a lot of money doing it, and I don't know if that's sustainable, but at the very least they've given the existing car manufacturers a big wake-up. Now there are electric cars parked in my street. Without Tesla I sincerely doubt I'd see that. I wish them luck. But I still wouldn't want to trust their Autopilot to drive me around.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: Whisper it…

        @defiler

        Damn. You’re right - have an upvote. Tesla have made Electric Vehicles cool and acceptable - and forced the traditional manufacturers to up their game. The Tesla itself might be a bit rubbish but what they’ve done can’t be overstated. And, put like that, it would seem an awful shame if they couldn’t reap some of the reward. Now if only they could stop focusing on sexy and focus instead on what’s actually good…

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whisper it…

          "Now if only they could stop focusing on sexy and focus instead on what’s actually good…"

          In that respect, sounds like Tesla is acting like every other automaker out there...

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Whisper it…

        "What Tesla has done, though, is make electric cars acceptable EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE"

        Fixed. You're welcome.

        Electric cars will be practical when:

        a) they all have 'backup' dino-burning engines that can run WHILE YOU DRIVE

        b) they can do a full charge within the same amount of time as "filling your tank"

        c) they have a range of >400 miles in extreme weather conditions with the air conditioning or heating on.

        Until then, they're "toys for the rich and/or smug" and we don't need GUMMINTS mandating (or worse, subsidizing) them.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Whisper it…

          "c) they have a range of >400 miles in extreme weather conditions with the air conditioning or heating on."

          D) they can tow a caravan a decent distance.

          Love or hate 'em, (I hate 'em) caravans are a thing. Can any leccy car pull one and what happens to the range? And before the anti-caravan crowd jump in, remember, there all sorts of reason to put a trailer other than caravans, but which are similar, eg boat trailers, horse boxes, gliders (seems to be a lot of them on the roads these days)

          1. defiler Silver badge

            Re: Whisper it…

            "c) they have a range of >400 miles in extreme weather conditions with the air conditioning or heating on."

            D) they can tow a caravan a decent distance.

            Bob, John - these are (once again) fringe cases.

            For every driver that does these things, I could show you 50 that never does and never has. Maybe an electric car could never be practical for you, because maybe you're on one end or the other of the bell curve. But for the vast majority of people, there's an electric car being manufactured today that would be practical for them at the right price. With one caveat - can they charge it at home?

            I was in Sidcup earlier in the year (commuter town on the edge of London, for those who don't know), and the cars were parked all along the pavement (sidewalk). Most houses didn't appear to have a driveway. That's an issue if you need to charge an electric car. If they can charge it at work / at the station / at the shops then that problem is greatly diminished, but it's still the biggest negative that I've seen for the vastly overwhelming majority of people in this country.

            1. Jtom Bronze badge

              Re: Whisper it…

              The trouble is, defiler, you don’t know in advance if you are a ‘fringe case’. Any of us can be the one getting a 2 am (when all but ‘fringe cases’ are charging their EVs) call from a hospital saying a relative is in a bad way. Would you rather have a car that can be refueled in less than five minutes, if necessary, or one that takes far, far longer?

              My car purchase is influenced not just on expected needs, but unexpected needs as well.

              I live a rather boring, conventional life, but have had to make long, immediate drives to help eveacuate family members from storms, and get to a hospital a thousand miles away quickly (flying was not an option, airports shut down by storms). I have also rescued a neighbor in the middle of the night, stranded by a flat tire. Being low on petrol is not a problem. Being low on a charge would turn a bad situation into a disaster.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Whisper it…

                My car purchase is influenced not just on expected needs, but unexpected needs as well.

                Still rather unusual use-case. For every person you can show who's had to do an emergency drive of hundreds of miles, I can show you thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) who've not had to do an emergency drive.

                My car is also purchased for my needs (I have a lot of use for a station wagon, and it gets it's intended use at least once every 2 weeks), but for most people an EV with a 100 mile max range would be plenty.

                When my current car is past it's servicable life then I'll take a look at an EV that can tow a trailer. I'll still get the utility, but for the times I want a car but don't need all that space then hopefully the EV will be light and efficient enough. The key reason I won't go for an EV right now is the energy/carbon cost of disposing of my current car plus the cost of making the EV outweigh the value of the EV. IOW, me getting an EV now would be bad for the environment.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Whisper it…

              "For every driver that does these things, I could show you 50 that never does and never has. Maybe an electric car could never be practical for you, because maybe you're on one end or the other of the bell curve. "

              I don't, and have never, towed anything behind my car. But a significant number of people do. I'd say probably enough that they are not "one end or the other of the bell curve", but maybe near there. Either way, the current Government plan is to ban the sale of ICE cars within the next 20 years so those people near the ends of the bell curve are going have to be catered for in some way.

              1. mosw

                Re: Whisper it…

                There is no fundamental reason I see that electric vehicles can't have hitches other then reduced range. I am one of those people that occasionally tows a utility trailer, but never more than a few miles, so range would not be a problem to me. Looking at the cars parked on my street I rarely (1 in 20 ?) see a trailer hitch on a vehicle, and when I do it is an SUV not a sedan. YMMV of coarse.

                Maybe future trailers will include supplemental batteries to compensate for reduced range? When the scale of electric cars production approaches that of ICE cars I expect battery prices and standardization will improve significantly.

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Whisper it…

                  "Maybe future trailers will include supplemental batteries to compensate for reduced range?"

                  A EV drive train developer, AC Propulsion, built a limited number of Scion van EV's and had a small trailer with a 1000cc (ish) generator that also had space for some luggage. It turned a BEV into a PHEV and would be a great option that dealers could rent to EV owners when they wanted to make a long trip. All it would take is a hitch and an electrical connection that interfaced into the electronics already on the car. About the only change would be that the car would recognize that the trailer was hooked on since they won't let you drive the car if they sense that it's plugged in. An argument with Hybrids is you have to lug the weight of the engine around even when you don't need it. With a range extender trailer, you leave it off when you don't need it and can hook it on when you do.

                  Using petrol to generate leccy is a horrible expensive way to go, but it can make sense in some cases when you want to go out past the charging stations. It's still cheaper to use a public charger when you can and it makes sense to stop for meals/restroom breaks at places where there is one.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Whisper it…

                  When the scale of electric cars production approaches that of ICE cars I expect battery prices and standardization will improve significantly.

                  It is something that would seem reasonable to expect.

                  But...

                  We got reasonable standardisation on fuel a long long time ago, almost at the birth of the ICE. A vehicle made in one part of the world can use petrol or diesel sold in another, usually without issue.

                  If battery packs on EV's were standardised, that would reduce some of the barriers for some people, including the cost of replacing the battery (or part thereof). Why aren't the EV makers talking to each other to pool their battery research and tech, and come up with stuff that benefits everyone? That would help the market considerably I expect.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Whisper it…

            "D) they can tow a caravan a decent distance."

            Check out Bjorn Nyland on YouTube. He regularly drags a trailer behind his Model X. It seems like he has some sort of delivery business.

            If you tow a caravan around all of the time, you are probably better off with truck that has a big 6cyl or V8 for the time being. That doesn't mean that you can't have an EV to commute in the rest of the week if you do commute. That saves putting miles on the big car and might save enough in petrol to compensate for the extravagant use of fuel that hauling a caravan around takes.

            I'm planning on getting a larger truck next year for towing, but it will be for use just when I'm towing or need need to move something big. I rent now and the fees are to the point where it makes sense to get a good second hand truck of my own. I'll keep my compact and I'd like to get a Bolt or similar non-Tesla for my day to day driving.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Whisper it…

          A) Why?

          B) you can charge up overnight on a cheap tarriff while you sleep and have a full "tank" every morning. Time to recharge: the 30 seconds it takes to plug in.

          C) 400 miles in extreme weather at a high average speed of 50mph (extreme weather, right?) would take 8 hours. You don't stop for meals or a pee once or twice? Do this often?

          Governments could just ban petrol/diesel cars to meet international emission accords and move away from politically dangerous oil imports on a massive scale. Instead, they are choosing to incentivize EV's knowing that they make heaps of sense and the more people are exposed to them, the more they will be adopted. The incentives won't last forever and if the first world doesn't have to send the military to the middle east to keep the oil flowing, the costs will balance and then improve over time.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Whisper it…

            a) a small genny can do wonders for an EV. The tech's been around a year or two. Still I personally think for many commuters a pure EV would be fine, see your other points.

            b) Not everyone gets cheap over night tariffs any more, and if everyone was pulling enough electricity to move a ton of steel around 50km/day (I think that's a reasonably common commute, many are more and many are less) then the "peaks" would shift and you would no longer get off-peak overnight use. And the grid in many areas would need some upgrading. Smart meters may allow shifting of your charge time to lessen demand but 1) you need your car charged and 2) when enough people take up EV, there won't be much room to shift them while still fully charging them.

            b2) Yes, you could perhaps do some of your own generation, and solar panels on the top of each EV would give them some extra charge when they're parked in enough light, but that's not guaranteed.

            c) 800 miles in a single sitting is beyond the range of my car, however I have done those sorts of distances with as little time as possible. A meal takes a couple of minutes, as does stopping for toilet breaks. Lets say 2x 10 min meals and 3x 10 minute toilet breaks - that;s a whopping 50 minutes across the whole trip. How much charge is an EV going to get in that time? And that's assuming there is somewhere to charge it.

            As to stopping times, for men a) we may just find a handy bit of bush or a quiet side road and b) we don't necessarily need to stop if we have suitable bottles around. I've often pulled up to a toilet/bush, hopped out for 30-40 seconds, and been under way again quickly. And that's even having time to rinse the hands.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whisper it…

          Electric cars will be practical when:

          I've given you an upvote, but do need to correct a little bit..

          Few cagers actually drive more than their daily commute. Many of them only drive a handful of miles each day (I know of a few cases where people could actually (and quite literally) get there faster by walking, but must take the car "in case I want it for..."). The 400 mile range many of us think EV's should have is not necessary for most people. So long as it can get 100 miles in extreme weather , it'll have plenty for the commute, the post-work shopping, and maybe one or two other errands.

          I have a bike that doesn't have half that range. It's my main vehicle, and I can do a few days commuting and other stuff on one tank. Sure it's only 2-3 minutes to fill it up when I need to, but there would be some convenience if I could plug it in at home and let it charge over night, so every morning I left with a 'full tank'.

          All that said, as I've mentioned here and elsewhere, I'm concerned about the need to upgrade the electricity infrastructure when EV's start to become more common, although I'd much rather see a massive spend on and uptake of public transport. Not everyone can use it, true. But when you see that most traffic is on the road between 7-9am and 4-6pm, it's kinda plain more enticing public transport could pull thousands of cars off the road....

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Whisper it…

            "But when you see that most traffic is on the road between 7-9am and 4-6pm, it's kinda plain more enticing public transport could pull thousands of cars off the road...."

            On the other hand, the vast majority of that extra commercially owned and operated public transport you envisage is NOT required for the other 20 hours of the day. You have to sell that idea to the fleet operators.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Whisper it…

              On the other hand, the vast majority of that extra commercially owned and operated public transport you envisage is NOT required for the other 20 hours of the day. You have to sell that idea to the fleet operators.

              They seem to manage OK in cities where there is a large amount of public transport.

      3. Keefwivanef

        Re: Whisper it…

        There are plenty of respectable companies making good electric cars.

        No need for the bloated pig of a Terdsla.

        It's INSANE and LUDICROUS.

        Whompy wheels are a bit of a worry too.

      4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: Whisper it…

        @Defiler - Electric cars have a long and checkered history dating back to the 1890's/1900's Brass Era cars. They have failed several times in the market for basically the same reasons of inadequate range and lengthy recharging times. The range problem is partially fixable, bigger battery but at the cost of greater weight. So there is a trade off between range and overall vehicle weight. The recharging time is limited by the battery chemistry and cannot be safely pushed or you will have some very serious problems; problems that vary according to the battery used. Also, a problem for EVs is there only certain battery chemistries that are suitable for an EV (voltage/current discharge curves versus power demands).

        Other issues include the lifetime of the battery pack and its replacement cost. Currently batteries need to be replaced fairly often (I have seen reports about every 60K miles/100K km). This is an expensive proposition as the battery packs are not cheap. Again a problem that has been around since the Brass Era.

        So the question isn't the current frenzy but whether it will last unlike past efforts. The really becomes a question of whether most people will find an EV an adequate first or second car. If not, the frenzy will die as sales collapse.

      5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Whisper it…

        The customers didn't want electric cars because the manufacturers said they couldn't have a long range.

        "Hold my <burp> beer" - 400 miles

        400 miles is "long range"? Not in the US it isn't. It's medium-range at best. I drive over 400 miles in a day once or twice a month, on average.

        The longest daily drive I make on a regular basis is around 850 miles, so with a 400-mile-range EV I'd have to recharge completely twice.

        400 miles is good range for an EV. It's certainly sufficient for many use cases. But it is not "long" range.

    2. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Whisper it…

      "Tesla has grown remarkably quickly, and the technology hasn’t had a chance to mature."

      The technology is there and has pretty much matured, just look at the 3rd generation Nissan Leaf or the Hyundai Kona (the electric version obviously). The issue for Tesla is manufacturing.

      Tesla used to be co-owed by Musk and Toyota, and the Tesla factory is an old Toyota factory but Musk started to make changes to the factory and refused to listen to any of Toyota's advice on car manufacturing. He even said that Toyota didn't have a clue about how to build cars and that he would 'school them on car manufacturing'. Toyota decided it wasn't worth dealing with an overgrown child and sold their shares.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Whisper it…

        Tesla used to be co-owed by Musk and Toyota, and the Tesla factory is an old Toyota factory but Musk started to make changes to the factory and refused to listen to any of Toyota's advice on car manufacturing. He even said that Toyota didn't have a clue about how to build cars and that he would 'school them on car manufacturing'. Toyota decided it wasn't worth dealing with an overgrown child and sold their shares.

        I didn't know that, thanks for relaying it. I'm reading a book, "The Toyota Way”, and it's very clear that Toyota know more about car manufacturing and quality than Elon Musk. What I'd like to know is whether any of the remaining shareholders took Toyota's departure as a warning sign. I know I would...

      2. DropBear Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Whisper it…

        " He even said that Toyota didn't have a clue about how to build cars and that he would 'school them on car manufacturing'"

        Well you have to admit the same attitude worked pretty well for Lamborghini...

        1. EUbrainwashing

          Re: Whisper it…

          Not in today's market. Lamborghini is now owned by VW with AUDI sharing the platform of the R8. Independent car production or proper cars is very rare: Aston Matin remains an example though Ford owned it for 10 years and now MB own 5% and are providing engines, Tec, etc for new models, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Isuzu (sort of) and some very bad Chinese cars. The platforms and R&D have to be shared widely. Tesla cannot prevail without cooperation. The sums don't start-up and they are one big issue away from market implosion. Their parts are vastly over priced, service is overpriced, and the vehicles residual values fearsome.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whisper it…

      Not sure that is exactly true. They are very good cars - top of class for crash testing, EV range, performance against even supercars, etc

      The software is also some of the most sophisticated however the agile method of delivery with OTAs means that production cars are running at the cutting edge for this class of car.It is also this method that has made many other car companies have to up their game. OTA updates means that you now have a car that is constantly being 'upgraded' and that creates a big buzz for the owners, similar to the early days of smartphones when new releases were eagerly awaited.

      However OTA updtaes does mean that you don't have to do as much testing knowing (traditionally there would be a big cost to recall a car for software changes at the dealership).

      So I'm not totally denying the point about the software being lacking, but to state that the cars aren't very good is overstating it somewhat. If I compare it to other car companies you could say that none of them make very good cars.

      My Renault loses its centre console if the windscreen wipers are going and I use the electric windows. The software on it is half great, half a total mess. The autobrake hold randomly works, the adaptive cruise control can kick the brakes on quite unnecessarily. I've driven BMWs with really clunky iDrive systems that took a few iterations to be good. I've driven VWs that pump out way more NOx than they should and then a software fix kills off expensive parts of the car.

      The critics of Tesla are just as Ardent as the supporters, the reality is somewhere in the middle.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whisper it…

        "performance against even supercars"

        only for a 10 second drag, give em a corner or a couple of laps and they fall over, get too hot or run out of electrons.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whisper it…

          "performance against even supercars".....only for a 10 second drag, give em a corner or a couple of laps and they fall over, get too hot or run out of electrons.

          I can't speak from my own experience, but an acquaintance who has a Model S says that he doesn't notice any material impact on range from driving it like he stole it. Clearly if you're accelerating hard and then braking hard all the time, the losses of friction braking may become material, but within the drive train an electric drive will always be vastly more efficient than a combustion engine.

          The people who will run out of electrons are more likely to be the buyers of second hand, low battery capacity models like the Leaf, Zoe, or eGolf, because they never had much range to start with, midlife batteries have reduced capacity, and in sub optimal conditions (eg night time winter driving) the ancillary loads will be very high.

          1. kwhitefoot
            Thumb Up

            Re: Whisper it…

            > doesn't notice any material impact on range from driving it like he stole it

            Agreed/ What really kills the range on my 2015 S 70D is storming down the autobahn at 225 kph on my way from home (Norway) to visit family (UK). But it does that to fossil cars too. Even sub-zero temperatures and mountains (-20 C over Dovre) don't have as dramatic an effect as the autobahn.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Whisper it…

            "The people who will run out of electrons are more likely to be the buyers of second hand, low battery capacity models like the Leaf, Zoe, or eGolf,"

            The people that run the battery flat are the same people that constantly run out of petrol. One of the things that EVs are good at is estimating what sort of range you have left. If it's a mid winter night and you have the headlights on and the heater going, you get less range, but the car will also give you updated estimates on range. With petrol cars we may have pushed it more than a few times when the needle on the fuel gauge touches E with the belief that there will be at least another 20 miles in and we can make it to our favorite petrol station. With an EV, it's better to believe the car's estimate and even leave some cushion.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whisper it…

          "only for a 10 second drag, give em a corner or a couple of laps and they fall over, get too hot or run out of electrons."

          I guess you are trolling, but just in case. I believe the Tesla set records for Laps of Laguna Secca and Pikes Peak. They are one of the best handling cars in their class due to the low center of gravity and the battery overheating problem was sorted out a long time ago. Sure they might run out of power after a few hundred miles but I wouldn't bet against a Tesla on a circuit retaining charge longer than a high performance production car running on gas.

          Either way the performance for the car type and price is pretty stunning.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Whisper it…

            "I believe the Tesla set records for Laps of Laguna Secca and Pikes Peak. "

            wrong...do you know how to google???

            you'd be right for electric cars only...(and in the case of pikes peak, it was highly modified to stop it going into limp mode!!)

            if you include "normal" cars, it's no where close.

            and it was claimed it was better than "super cars"

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whisper it…

          "only for a 10 second drag, give em a corner or a couple of laps and they fall over, get too hot or run out of electrons."

          Which is plenty for the vast majority of drivers. Even supercar owners aren't all about spending time at the racetrack, it's about the swagger factor of peeling out from a stoplight or quickly passing someone on a highway. Or (in my limited experience) about taking a friend along for a ride in your shiny new Tesla and attempting to get him to defile your upholstery with the accel/decel performance (he failed... barely).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whisper it…

        I like my Tesla - comfortable, quiet and certainly not good value (unless you take the first adopter as one enabler of new technologies). But I would never use the auto drive (including lane change) features - that way madness lies.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Whisper it…

        "However OTA updtaes does mean that you don't have to do as much testing knowing (traditionally there would be a big cost to recall a car for software changes at the dealership)."

        I'm not sure what this means but if you're trying to say that testing doesn't matter because you can push bug fixes that might be true but the bug fix doesn't get installed on the cars which crashed, killing all occupants and a few innocent bystanders before the the fix got pushed.

    4. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Whisper it…

      PR gets in the way again, Autopilot is only an improved cruise control, not a chauffeur.

      Tesla owners are guinea pigs riding in an experimental system - their choice, they engage autopilot - again their choice, they stop looking out of the windows - their really stupid choice!

      Situational awareness - keep it or die.

      Everyone else has the right to expect that Tesla cars on automatic will fail with minimum external impact and that does seem to be the case, I'm not aware of any 3rd party fatalities from Tesla.

      Running out of road and crashing instead of blindly turning into other traffic works for me, I'd rather not have to play spot the Tesla on auto alongside the usual spot the moron while driving.

      Having said that, I'm in agreement with @defiler, they've made electric cars work - (software..meh...) in another 10 years (money permitting) Tesla will be just another car maker.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whisper it…

      You had better keep quiet or you will end up getting a dose of this...

      citing the potential for harassment by Tesla fanatics

      They really do not like anyone criticising their mobile prayer vehicle as they pay homage to the church of Tesla and its head, Elon Musk.

      Say one word against them and they descend upon you like a ton of bricks.

      One commentator started saying that TOWIT is not the only way. (The Only Way Is Tesla) and was swiftly branded a troll.

      IMHO, their vehicles are of the same sort of quality as every other American car (not those made by foreign companies in the USA). Basic to say the least. They have cut costs by putting everything onto the screen which means that you have to take your eyes off the road to do pretty well everything.

      That's probably why so many Tesla disciples cant wait for full autonomy.

      You hear the words 'Take a nap on my commute' an awful lot.

      These people are either really, really trusting or as thick as two short planks. Just my Opinion which is usually crap so you make your own mind up.

      Then there is the Model 3. They think that it will take over the world and every other car is a POS.

      It is a frigging saloon car for heavens sake. Do they think we are back in the early 1960's when almost everyone drove a saloon car.

      I'd better stop or the Tesla hordes will be tearing my door down and trying to convert me to the church of Musk...

      Naturally the above is /s and I really didn't mean it (honest)

    6. tgm

      Re: Whisper it…

      Yeah nope. I have 4 cars: a BMW 335i, a Golf R, a BMW X5, and a Tesla Model 3.

      The model 3 gets driven the most. It's fun, it handles well, the throttle response is amazing, and the build quality is good. It's relaxing using autopilot in stop and go traffic, and it's fun and sporty in the twisties.

      The 335i is gonna be sold soon, I just don't drive it anymore.

      My wife drives the Golf, the X5 is good for the dogs and big heavy things, the Tesla is great for everything else.

      Yes, there's a cult around Tesla which is toxic, but get past that and the model 3 (I can't speak for the S and X) is a damn good car.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whisper it…

      The Tesla is a gadget. It isn’t a good car

      Actually, it is a very good car, marred mainly by excessive ambition in the control software. Build quality is iffy for European or Japanese markets, but is clearly entirely acceptable to the US market.

      But your point about Tesla trying to make their cars sexy is right. Not because Musk's narcissism and personality cult, but simply because he rightly realised that EV adoption was being hindered by the crapness of EV offers by mainstream makers. Look at the dull, unimaginative designs (Nissan Leaf and others) or the wantonly weird designs (BMW i series), the compromises of using bodies designed for petrol (Golf EV), pathetic range and performance (many, many culprits), or boring, opportunistic pretend EVs (Mitsubishi PHEV, Toyota Prius and others).

      You might not like Tesla cars and I respect your right not to, but it is a matter of fact that Tesla cars offer excellent performance, the company have more vision and more EV experience than the rest of the car industry put together, and they produce attractive and generally desirable cars that many people would like and can aspire to.

      Personally I don't believe Tesla have a long term independent future. But I predict history will look back very favourably on the company and its founder as the people who made the EV a credible, practical and desirable choice, at the time when the conventional motor industry sat on its fat arse, cheating emission control tests and saying EVs wouldn't catch on.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Whisper it…

        "Build quality is iffy for European or Japanese markets, but is clearly entirely acceptable to the US market."

        That's a pretty damning indictment of the entire US home automotive market. The home market should be looking at the imports and upping their game, as should the consumers. Buying American just because it's American, even when it's shite, is...stupid,

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whisper it…

          That's a pretty damning indictment of the entire US home automotive market. The home market should be looking at the imports and upping their game, as should the consumers. Buying American just because it's American, even when it's shite, is...stupid,

          I think these days one has to expand one's mind and reconsider what is "American". Just because a label says Toyota, Honda or Nissan doesn't mean it's imported, or even that North Americans didn't build it, manage the plant, run the supplier companies, etc... Toyota in particular have been pretty good at changing how their NA supplier base operates. Reputedly a lot of their suppliers now won't work with GM, Ford, because dealing with the Japanese is far easier and more profitable.

          The most significant import, if you can call it that, is manufacturing philosophies and quality control ideas. The fact that Tesla / GM / Ford haven't seen fit to adopt these ideas wholesale does not mean all Americans have rejected them; lots have gone with them, and they're happily working under a Japanese banner.

          My guess is that they see little value in leaving and trying to put right enterprises run by belligerent know-it-alls like Musk. That then means that the pool of the best automotive workers / suppliers is not available to companies like Tesla...

          Same happened here in the UK. Before the Japanese turned up British automotive industry was a joke; unproductive, strikes, poor quality, etc. Since Honda, Toyota Nissan turned up there's no strikes and their factories rival their Japanese counterparts for productivity. And we're quite proud of Japanese cars having Made in Britain stamped on them.

          Musk thinking he can do better is laughable.

    8. Dieter Haussmann

      Re: Whisper it…

      There is a video on Youtube where an Automotive Engineering Consultant strips a BMW i3, Leaf and Tesla (not sure which one) He came to the conclusion that the Tesla motor, batteries and some other tech stuff and 10-20 years ahead of the others, but everything else, such as the bodyshell and doors are terribly designed, heavy and complex to make and from many parts and using way to may types of fastenings. Eg there was a Tesla wheel well made of 20 heavy parts with glue, rivets, welding etc... and a BMW one of thee welded parts that was lighter and stronger and cheaper to make.

      The conclusion was that Tesla should have already paired with a big established automaker.

    9. jzl

      Re: Whisper it…

      My wife and I actually own a Tesla Model S in real life. It's been our only car for two years now. That makes me relatively well qualified to comment on it.

      Much of what you say is true, but I dispute - deeply - the assertion that it's not a very good car.

      Have you actually driven one? For more than just a spin round the block? They are incredibly satisfying to drive in a quite difficult to define, but utterly real way. There's something about the immediacy of the power - the total and utter lack of any sort of lag - that makes every other vehicle feel a bit wrong. It's not the steering - a Model S has steering which is firmly in the middle of the pack in terms of feel and weighting. It's the powertrain. It really is qualitatively different and in a very pervasive way.

      Powerful electric cars are like that, it seems. The Jaguar I-Pace (I've driven one) is similarly satisfying. But there really isn't much competition - it's basically the I-Pace or bust at the moment if you want to actually buy something.

      They don't have the best quality interior for the price, but they're improving significantly. The Model S in particular has improved substantially in the last two months or so since they did a mild interior refresh and replaced all the cheap looking chrome and plastic with graphite and much higher quality materials. A late 2018 Model S is rather different beast to even a late 2017 Model S, or heaven forbid one of the early cars.

      My Tesla is - by far - the best car I have ever owned. Not just because it's a gadget, but because it's such an impressively rewarding vehicle to drive. It's comfortable, spacious, fast as hell and almost telepathic at the throttle.

      1. jzl

        Re: Whisper it…

        Additionally, Autopilot works well. I should know, having covered thousands of tedious

        traffic-laden motorway miles with it.

        All of you saying it doesn’t or can’t work, have you actually tried it? No? Thought so.

        Armchair keyboard warriors.

        1. Dog Eatdog

          Re: Whisper it…

          "Additionally, Autopilot works well. I should know, having covered thousands of tedious traffic-laden motorway miles with it."

          Have you got autopilot V1 or V2? My V1 works well, but everyone I know who has V2 complains about it.

          Shame they had to ditch V1 after Mobileye dumped Tesla for taking too many risks.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Whisper it…

        My wife and I actually own a Tesla Model S in real life. It's been our only car for two years now. That makes me relatively well qualified to comment on it.

        "Everyone generalizes from a single example. I know I do."

    10. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Whisper it…

      The sad truth is that Tesla cars aren’t actually very good. It shouldn’t be surprising that they’re aren’t good cars - Tesla has grown remarkably quickly, and the technology hasn’t had a chance to mature. The result is that some parts, notably the batteries, are excellent, some are undercooked (the software isn’t ready yet) and others are shoddy (for the price, build quality springs to mind).

      As someone said - perhaps here - it all makes sense when you realise that a $40,000 Tesla Model 3 is actually a $20,000 car with a $20,000 battery in it.

    11. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Whisper it…

      "Tesla’s focus is not on safety, except when necessary to comply with the law - and sometimes not even then."

      Tesla have the highest scores in Euro NCAP crash tests. Battery gives low COG and no engine in front allows better crumple zones.

      Certainly having such a software-centric car, they should concentrate on having better quality software. But other major manufacturers all have quality horror stories. Tesla having a few quality issues is par for the course, I don't think they're particularly far behind or ahead of any of the major manufacturers in terms of build quality and overall reliability. And they are certainly ahead, sometimes considerably, in terms of performance and safety

    12. macjules Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Whisper it…

      Disagree. Have you owned a Tesla car at all?

      I owned a Model S from early 2014, i.e. before they were introduced mainstream into Europe, and sold it last year. With the possible exceptions of occasional failed software updates which effectively bricked the car until they corrected it, it ran absolutely amazingly. I can not fault it as a car, I just do not like the company that uses its owners to try and force you to sign up your friends and family to ownership.

  2. Lee D Silver badge

    Deathtrap v0.98

    Sorry, but we just don't have software capable of this kind of thing reliably, and despite Tesla using every trick in the book (including "hard-coding" instructions to do things like "ignore that bridge, because it's not actually a bridge" in certain geographical locations that they know it has a hard time interpreting) it can't ever be safe like that.

    These are the diligent few, the ground-breakers, the ones willing to put up with flaws in the system to say they have a new. When it gets into the budget/hands of the general public it's going to come to light quite how dangerous these things have *always* been.

    This is why the software claims were looked on dubiously from day one. We just don't have systems capable of doing the things they are claiming, and likely won't until some actual proper AI revolution (not the current "AI" fad which is just statistics and brute-force until the software plateaus doing a half-job and takes longer to un-train it from bad behaviour than anything else, and which we have no idea how it's actually inferring/making decisions, yet we pretend we can still make it do what we want).

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Deathtrap v0.98?

      I see you're ahead of everyone else, they're on Deathtrap v0.97.20181110.beta

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Sorry, but we just don't have

      Another one who apologises for his comment before even writing it.

      Accepted.

  3. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Coat

    Tesla types tweet ton of totally terrible trips

  4. Crisp Silver badge

    Say what you like about Teslas

    But I've never had one try and move into a lane I'm occupying.

    Human drivers seem to be on a mission to try and knock me off my bike.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Say what you like about Teslas

      I'll second that. Yesterday I was actually surprised to get home, and in one piece...

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Say what you like about Teslas

      Must not have encountered one in the right circumstances then. Because I've seen one try to take out 2 bikers at once recently. Was hard to tell if it was using autopilot but the driver was clearly more concerned with his phone than driving the car.

      1. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: I've seen one try to take out 2 bikers at once recently.

        If I do get knocked off my motorcycle, I can guarantee you that it will be some twonk on his mobile phone.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Say what you like about Teslas

        not just bicycles "not being seen", but motorcycles and convertibles with the top down. It's because car mirrors just aren't adequate, and it's easy to NOT see things under certain conditions.

        As for me, I avoid riding in people's blind spots, and get REALLY irritated with "pacers" who match my speed and hang out in MY blind spots. [those people are idiots]

        Now if I could just B-slap the [blank] out of people who insist on (or are ignorant of) having their headlights aimed too high [especially in fog] it'd be a lot better out there... that and people who won't [blanking] STEP ON THE GAS PEDAL when the light turns green, or space opens up in front of them. @#$% slow pokes BLOCKING THE LANE...

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Say what you like about Teslas @bob

          I drive a lot on un-lit roads (it's a hazard of living in a rural environment), and it is not just drivers who have their lights set too high that bother me.

          The super-bright LED lights on cars coming in the opposite direction are enough to upset night vision even when they're adjusted correctly and not on high-beam. They're just too bright.

          What surprised me a while back was that these super-bright lights are also being put on pushbikes. This is just wrong, especially when they are set to flash. Even if they don't flash, when you come across one, you have to look hard to see past them to make sure they are not a car with one light not working (and thus difficult to see how much of the road they occupy.)

          And don't get me started on the stupidity that allows manufacturers to put indicator lights next to or surrounded by high brightness side lights, especially if the sidelight has to turn off when the indicator turns on to allow the indicator to be seen. You get a light that just appears to go from white to orange, without the required change in contrast. Why are they even allowed in the homologation tests!

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Say what you like about Teslas @bob

            @Peter Gathercole

            Re the bright LED/HID lights on cars and the horribly bright constant "camera flash" lights on so many bikes. I can't upvote you more than once, so have 100 virtual upvotes from me.

            I'm not sure if there are any rules/laws/regulations on the brightness of lights on vehicles, but the Highway Code does specify that headlights must be used in such way as to not dazzle other road users. Some of these HID LED headlights are so bright that they dazzle by design on the "wrong" shaped road, eg a right hand bend downhill from my perspective means oncoming superbright headlights dazzle me. Likewise oncoming traffic or traffic behind going over bumps and going off like camera flashes.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Say what you like about Teslas

          Now if I could just B-slap the [blank] out of people who insist on (or are ignorant of) having their headlights aimed too high [especially in fog]

          You nearly got a very rare down vote to add to your meagre total, but this paragraph changed my mind to an upvote. I'd vote for a law that limits the amount of light emitted from the front of the vehicle when on 'low beam' and also mandatory impounding of cars where the lights aren't adjusted.

          Add in those 'rear fog guard' lights that sometimes mask the brake lights (and I've heard are illegal except in fog in some countries, but too low on the ticket list for cops to bother)

          There is, however, good reason to go easier on the gas when space opens up. Traffic flows could be greatly improved if people actually allowed more space in front, meaning they don't have to stop just because the car in front did (they slow down, the car in front moves on, they speed up...)

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Say what you like about Teslas

      Though I utterly agree, I do wonder why you continue to put your life at risk.

      I used to be a cyclist. I stopped. There's no way I can justify being a tiny little unprotected, invisible thing sharing a road with 18-ton lorries, whether they look or not. People in cars get wiped out by such things every day, but at least they have a ton of steel around them designed to do nothing other than save their lives. On a bike, you don't even have that. Even putting a huge motor between my legs wouldn't improve that situation noticeably at all.

      I'm not against cycling in any way - I actually think cyclists should be allowed to cycle on pavements if it's safe to do so. Motorbikes I think are fecking suicidal. Not only can you get hit, but you can go fast enough that it's instantaneous death, do not pass Go, do not collect £200.

      But I cannot, for my own sake, justify being on a road in the modern era on anything approaching a two-wheeled vehicle. We laughed the Sinclair C5 off the road for safety reasons, why haven't we done the same for bikes?

      Some 75% of road deaths are people on bikes. Literally, your life expectancy is lowered substantially being a regular user of one.

      No matter what "should" be the case, why would any sensible person continue to partake in such a venture? I "should" be able to walk through the streets of London at 3am, counting ten thousand pounds out into my hand. I don't because that's just such an incredibly stupid thing to do, even if I simultaneously campaign for change in that regard.

      Honestly... how do you justify, after several near misses / actual hits, continuing to use a bike? "Out of principle?"

      I know I gave it up and wouldn't go back, and it's entirely unrelated to how well *I* can ride one / drive when I'm around one.

      1. Tim Hughes

        Re: Say what you like about Teslas

        @Lee D

        What is the point of your comment, and why so inaccurate?

        20 seconds with Google:

        - 2017, UK Road deaths, cyclists, 101 people, 6% of the total.

        https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/744077/reported-road-casualties-annual-report-2017.pdf

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Say what you like about Teslas

          Chart 6 / 7: Casualty / fatality rate per billion passenger miles by road user type: GB, 2017

          <-- mathematician.

          There's no point in comparing cyclists who cycle 200 yards to motorbikes who drive 200 miles.

          P.S. That's GB only. Worldwide, it's INCREDIBLY higher.

          1. 45RPM Silver badge

            Re: Say what you like about Teslas

            @Lee D

            I cycle thousands of miles a year (usually - this year I've been lazy and only cracked 1,000) but, whilst I agree that cycling can be risky given the number of utter morons daydreaming in their steel cages whilst (erroneously) imagining that they own the road*, the only way that it's going to get safer is if more people get on their bikes.

            When in more enlightened countries, like the Netherlands, I've noticed that the roads are safer (for pedestrians too) and the air is cleaner. All because people leave the car at home for short journeys and get on their bicycles instead.

            The future has to be pedal powered for short journeys (electric for long ones)

            * Before anyone complains that cyclists don't pay vehicle tax, I'd like to get a preemptive 'Wrong' in here. Most adult cyclists are also motorists and hence most pay vehicle tax. Furthermore, I've never heard a complaint levelled against me for not paying vehicle tax on my classic car, or my wife not paying vehicle tax on her greener-than-thou-mobile. Out of three cars, we only actually have to shell out for one - but it's the bike, the one that uses the least space, and does the least damage, that people whinge about. Crazy!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Say what you like about Teslas

              "When in more enlightened countries, like the Netherlands, I've noticed that the roads are safer (for pedestrians too) and the air is cleaner. All because people leave the car at home for short journeys and get on their bicycles instead."

              In my town (in Hampshire, in the UK) there's a gradually increasing number of people taking their kids to school on danish child transport tricycles and dutch bakfiets. Speaking as the owner of a 2 wheeled bakfiets, it's a damn sight more pleasant than using the car for the school or nursery run. Sadly, my kids are now self propelled, and the Bakfiets now only comes out for big supermarket shopping trips.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Say what you like about Teslas

              "I agree that cycling can be risky given the number of utter morons daydreaming in their steel cages whilst (erroneously) imagining that they own the road"

              What I see as a driver and a long-ago cyclist are numerous cyclists who seem to have abdicated all responsibility for their own safety to others. If such cyclists are going to rely on telepathy and miraculous braking and steering to keep them safe then it's not surprising there are so many accidents.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Say what you like about Teslas

                "What I see as a driver and a long-ago cyclist are numerous cyclists who seem to have abdicated all responsibility for their own safety to others. If such cyclists are going to rely on telepathy and miraculous braking and steering to keep them safe then it's not surprising there are so many accidents."

                Agreed, also a driver and ex-cyclist. There are a significant number of twats driving cars that don't take reasonable care around cyclists, but equally, there are a significant number of twats on bikes who care nothing for either their own safety or that of others. These two groups cause the creation of the extremist drivers who blame all cyclists and extremist cyclists who blame all car drivers, which helps no one.

                1. really_adf

                  Re: Say what you like about Teslas

                  There are a significant number of twats driving cars that don't take reasonable care around cyclists, but equally, there are a significant number of twats on bikes who care nothing for either their own safety or that of others.

                  There are a significant number of twats driving cars that don't take reasonable care (no further qualification needed). Same riding (push) bikes.

                  I doubt the ratios differ much, but in reality the twats on bikes mostly endanger themselves, while those in cars mostly endanger others. Very different types of twat.

            3. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Stop

              Re: Say what you like about Teslas

              "the only way that it's going to get safer is if more people get on their bikes"

              easy to say (perhaps even smugly), not practical because of:

              a) weather

              b) hills

              c) distance

              d) age

              factor those in, and our 'steel cages' are much more practical. It has been so for over 100 years.

              The only alternative would be horse-drawn carts, and THEN you'd hear the constant b.i.itching and whining about the HORSE CRAP everywhere, and the stench, and the flies, and the need to grow all of that hay, yotta yottta (and horse farts spewing methane which really IS a greenhouse gas).

              Things are the way they are because it's actually BETTER this way.

              1. Someone Else Silver badge

                Re: Say what you like about Teslas

                e) A winter in Chicago.

                For those of you from the Right side of the pond, consider a dry 20-25 mph wind which always seems to be blowing in your face, with an air temperature of roughly 20 degF, and full sun, not a cloud in the sky. Pretty, to be sure, but after a week of that, even the most strident CycleNazi will be clamoring for a trip to the store in a car.

              2. 45RPM Silver badge

                Re: Say what you like about Teslas

                @Bob

                I enjoy my car. It’s well over half a century old and it’s fun to drive. I like my modern car too, it’s comfortable - but, as with *nearly* every modern car, so laden with bells and whistles and driver aids that it’s actually quite dull to drive. But I love my bicycle. Taking your points:

                1 I ride it in all weathers. Remarkably, I find that it doesn’t care or stop working because it’s wet out - so why should I? I once rode it for over 250 miles in driving rain and wind.

                2 ...and the Brecon Beacons didn’t present a problem either.

                3 See point 1. But, as you’ll remember, I did say electric cars FTW for longer distances. Or when carrying heavy loads.

                4 Yeah. But no. I’m closer to grave than cradle, and my dear old mum is in her 80s. She still rides 60 mile plus distances - and uses her bike for everything since she doesn’t have a car.

                So those are just excuses. Not very valid ones either, I’m afraid.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Say what you like about Teslas

                a) weather

                b) hills

                c) distance

                d) age

                Not really. You get used to hills, the weather isn't an issue with proper gear and you can make alternative plans if you're too soft to go out in the rain.

                B, C and D are irrelevant. Friends of mine have just returned from a few months cycle tour around Europe. Next year they plan to cross the US on their bikes. He turns 78 at his next birthday. Pretty sure they'll see plenty of hills, cover at least a couple of dozen miles while they ride across the US, and age - well they're both retired so....

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Say what you like about Teslas

          "@Lee D

          What is the point of your comment, and why so inaccurate?

          20 seconds with Google:

          - 2017, UK Road deaths, cyclists, 101 people, 6% of the total."

          That's just deaths. Being pitched from your bike and winding up in a wheelchair or even being relatively lucky and escaping major injury could still put you off work for a week or two. A similar smash up while you're in a car might lose you the use of the car, but you could still get to work the next day without needing special accommodation for your new handicap.

          I used to ride and race bicycles all of the time and loved it. I rarely used it as a way to get to work and back except at one job that was not too far and accessible via low traffic streets. Before I got my license, I had one job that was a fair ride, but I got a ride home after dark.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Coat

        "There's no way I can justify being a tiny little unprotected, invisible thing sharing a road

        with 18-ton lorries, "

        I knew someone like this.

        She said it woke her up coming into work in the morning.*

        *She was also a mountain climber. She didn't like hobbies you couldn't get killed doing.

      3. Criggie
        WTF?

        Re: Say what you like about Teslas

        > Some 75% of road deaths are people on bikes.

        [Citation needed]

        Let's not have made-up numbers thrown about please.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Say what you like about Teslas

        Honestly... how do you justify, after several near misses / actual hits, continuing to use a bike? "Out of principle?"

        I use a bike for convenience, health, safety and enjoyment factors.

        Convenience - actually generally much easier for me to get the bike out and do a job than it is to get the behemoth out. Transporting tons of steel just to go down the local shops? Utter idiocy! Also, since I can lane-split and pass thousands upon thousands of cars stuck in traffic at any one time...

        Health - we're talking motorbike here. I actually get stressed and claustrophobic in cars. I have been in one bad and a couple of minor crashes. In quite literally hundreds of thousands of miles of riding over the last 4 decades I've had some close calls and 3 incidents I rate as crashes, although only two of them actually resulted in the bike also stopping and only one resulting in a need to pick the bike back up. While I drive (or am even in a car) I have to manage my anxiety levels and that sort of thing can take a lot of effort. It often takes a few hours for the stress levels to fade when I'm home or somewhere else as well. But with the bike, while I am vigilant I am also much more relaxed. My over-all mental health is far better, and that has obvious benefits for my physical health as well.

        Safety - see above. I've done a lot of training and continue to do so. Also, by being a rider and understanding how vulnerable you are I am much more aware of what's going on around me. Get in a head-on with a truck in your car with all the bells and whistles, you'll be just as dead as I am. But I have the advantage of a smaller and more manoeuvrable vehicle. With the right alignment of stars I can even drop it and slide underneath the truck. That said, I've only been in such a situation a couple of times, few people get enough chance to practice head-on avoidance. But if I was to see it coming, I'd have better odds of avoiding it on a bike than in a car.

        Enjoyment - see the stresses above, plus I love riding for all the normal reasons people love riding. And I can do it knowing that I pollute far less.

        It's also worth noting that in places where buses aren't common, car drivers are blind to buses when they drive through the area. But where push bikes or pedestrians are common, people see them much more easily. Humans have an easier time seeing what they're used to. Observing bikes often programs your mind with all sorts of useful information about how fast they're coming and trajectories and the like. Watch a professional cricketer and you'll see they only need a moment of seeing the bat hit the ball to know where the ball is going to go. See them run for a catch, looking at where the ball is heading rather than looking at where the ball is. They're used to seeing it. I've been able to ride in areas where bikes lane-splitting is very common and in areas where bikes are only seen occasionally. The driving where bikes are common is very different to that where they're seldom seen. Same for buses, trucks, peds, whatever.

        Point of that last bit is this : Increase the number of bikes on the road, and you'll increase the safety of bikes on the road. (Also, increase the jail-time for people caught using their phones whilst driving!)

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I went and read that "detailed critique" and, wow.

    It's no surprise that Musk insists that the Autopilot is to be used with your hands on the wheel. With the amount of confirmation requests, it seems like the driver doesn't have time to take them off the wheel.

    The list of things that go wrong would be hilarious if we were talking about a game, but it is chilling when you realize that we're talking about real life.

    I have no intention of buying a Tesla, but if I did I would not use Autopilot for damn sure.

  6. werdsmith Silver badge

    My radar adaptive cruise sensor will occasionally just tell me it's not playing anymore until I clean the sensor. Usually on motorways in bad weather. It also won't play unless the windscreen is totally defrosted.

    But when it works (99% of the time) it's wonderful.

  7. GeordieSteve

    No way ready!

    Until I have seen lorries and coaches using this technology on the motorways for a couple of years would I even trust it under similar circumstance.

    When trying to develop firmware for such environments it is easy to overlook the noisy environment that the code is trying to interpret and basically over simplify the problems (especially if you have no real appreciation of the technology, that is probably you Mr Musk and the media in general).

    We really are no where near trying to emulate a human response to an environment, we may perform the odd trick, but what the human body does is still beyond us.

    I think of what we do as a wave, that hits our senses and propagates through a very complex filter and feedback system and on to the muscles etc. Neural networks are an approximation and probably the closest we have to a solution, but they are generally large, slow and basically an unknown quantity at the moment.

    I feel fairly confident in saying that autonomous vehicles will happen, but the environment they work in will need to be structured to support them.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: No way ready!

      Computers are singularly unable to infer.

      We know why there's a shadow on the ground coming from between those parked cars in that lit street... we know that's there's a school on the right and the kids are playing football against the very fence that we're driving past... we know that the pillock in front is driving contrary to all road laws and that means we have to be much more careful interpreting the situation around him... we know that the thing that moved out from between the parked cars might just be a child, or it might be a paper bag that would look solid but not actually be so... we can infer that the blue-lights around the corner ahead mean we should approach with more caution than normal... we know that though we *could* make that gap, it's probably not safe or sensible to do so because it relies on everyone else continuing to drive exactly as they are, yet they are human too.

      Computers cannot infer. They react only. Have you ever been in a car that is driven by someone purely on reaction? We're not talking rally drivers (they are scary enough, but because they are reading the situation and taking calculated risks that we wouldn't), but people who literally have no sense of the road and just drive based on what's six-inches off their bonnet? It's terrifying, no matter how skilled a driver you think you are personally, the one thing that will make me get out your car is that you're only *reacting* to what happens to you, not *predicting* or *infering* or *adjusting* to the scenario.

      That's what the cars are doing. Reacting. They have no way to infer even the basic properties of the objects around them (e.g. the paper bag scenario... there is no sensor on a Tesla that can distinguish between a paper bag and a rock... so does it swerve to avoid the paper bag, or does it drive straight into the rock?). They certainly can't infer anything about the wider situation. That makes them dangerous. More so in that, in ideal conditions, they operate fine and gain the user's confidence. Nobody cares about that. Ideal-condition driving is both pleasant and fun, personally. That's the bit I don't *want* the car doing. But it's not capable of the bit I don't want to have to do at all... adjust to a rapidly-changing scenario or infer the intentions of other drivers, or even infer the properties of the road ahead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No way ready!

        But it's not capable of the bit I don't want to have to do at all.

        Indeed. If I had a self driving car, the bits I'd want it to do are the horrible driving in busy traffic; in poor light/darkness, or poor driving conditions like heavy rain, fog, or snow, or unpredictable urban stop/start congestion.

        I know Tesla are only offering Autopilot as a fairweather friend, but when you look at what it can do, it is so far off what would actually be useful.

        1. kwhitefoot

          Re: No way ready!

          > it is so far off what would actually be useful.

          Have you tried driving one?

          > urban stop/start congestion.

          this is exactly what traffic aware cruise control and autosteer are good at.

      2. Alister Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: No way ready!

        Dammit Lee, stop writing things I agree with...

        ;)

      3. Oddlegs

        Re: No way ready!

        I'm not sure if there's really a difference between inferring and reacting. You see a shadow emerging between two parked cars. You know there's a school nearby so you infer it could be a child and slow down a bit just in case. Or did you react to seeing a person shaped shadow and hence slow down? Every scenario you describe is one a computer could learn/be programmed to recognise. Sure there are countless other scenarios which could be envisaged (or even not envisaged). A human is far more capable of dealing with something unexpected that they haven't encountered before than a computer. But a computer doesn't need to be perfect to be useful when it comes to driving. It doesn't even have to be as good as a 'good' driver. It only needs to be better than an 'average' driver. As long as such vehicles 'fail safe' when they're not sure about something by slowing or even stopping completely then I don't see a problem (provided it's not happening every 100m).

        I don't think the current tech is anywhere close to being good enough but it'll get there eventually

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: No way ready!

          The difference is quite obvious.

          I know that the shadow is cast by a person. The computer doesn't. It has to be told. There's no driving instruction / test where they tell you "watch out for shadows", specifically. A human, though, is able to look at the situation (blue lights / shadow / kid running from the fields several feet off the road / the sight of a ball crossing the road in front of you which is likely to be followed by a small child retrieving it, etc.) and infer things about it that aren't present in the raw data.

          The computer *cannot* do this. They can't learn like that. They can't infer anything that's not absolutely 100% inherent in the data or programmed in. They can't slow down every time you pass a police car with blue lights, nor can they track every object to the point that it realises it's a ball and cast the trajectory back to its likely origin without also slamming the brakes on for a paper bag blowing across a motorway.

          The machines do *not* infer data. They are incapable of doing so. All of them. Even the "AI" ones. They don't infer. They are told, they try to find a marker within that data which is semi-reliable, and then then guess. They have no idea WHY they have to brake, they don't know why the road is suddenly all shiny and rainbow-coloured and why that means you should probably slow and make no sudden lane changes or steering at that point. They can't infer it back. They can only react to specific data they've been told to look for.

          And you CANNOT tell a computer to look for every possible circumstance, with any accuracy. It's just infeasible.

          I put my life in a computer's hands every time I get into a car. ABS. An ECU controlling fuel pumps. Even electronic engine timing can blow up a car if it goes wrong. But they are NEVER required to guess. If the oxygen is below this reading, signal failure. If it's between this and that, then you're at this point in the stroke and you should do X, Y, Z. They never "guess". They can't "infer". They don't know why the oxygen sensor suddenly returns zeroes, they just get told what to do if it ever does. This is why most cars with oxygen sensors just stall if the sensor is faulty. They can't infer that it's faulty and ignore it. They just sit, splutter and stall. Disconnect it, and the engine KNOWS it's not there and slips into "limp home" mode. But you have to know to do that.

          And that's the entire problem... current tech can't even stop files being deleted, people breaking into websites, or properly autocomplete an English sentence. And you expect it to be even vaguely safe to interpret what is possible the worst scenario ever for a computer vision system?

          Never rely on a computer to infer. They can't. They don't understand the world and thus cannot predict it or even notice when they themselves are failing. You give a computer instructions to do far more rapidly and perfectly than you could ever do. That's what they are for, that's what they are best at, that's what they do. You do not get a computer to ever infer anything, certainly not in any life-threatening scenario. These things can't even write a decent paragraph of English text with years of supercomputing efforts behind them. They have no concept of the data they are acting on. They are just following instructions.

          Those sufficiently complicated instructions can work wonders, yes, but they cannot generate any sort of intelligence (nobody has ever proven that and, no, a Turing Test is nothing more than a psychology test for a human, not an intelligence test for a computer), and they cannot infer anything that's not present in the data.

          If you can't infer, you can't understand the situation, or adapt properly to it, or deal with any situation which you don't have explicit instructions on how to deal with.

          Uber is a great example - that self-driving car that killed the woman with the bike? Within a few seconds it detected her as nothing, a wall, a bike, another vehicle, a pedestrian, and then didn't know what to do about any of them. A human would infer from all those instructions what the situation actually was. The car wasn't trained on it at all, and wouldn't have stopped in time even if the braking hadn't been disabled.

          Inference is an inately human / animal skill associated with intelligence. If I bop myself on the head with this stick it hurts me. So that means if I bop THAT monkey on the head...

          Inference is a vastly different skill and not present in any computer system that I'm aware of. Not one of them tries to trace back the reasoning for the data being classified as such. They just operate on statistics and heuristics. Don't trust your life, quite literally, to chance and what-some-bloke-wrote-down for every situation.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: No way ready!

            "They don't understand the world"

            This is the crux of it. Way before we ever get into a driving seat, way, even, before we stand up we have gained an understanding of what solid objects are. We come to understand that breaking things isn't good and what actions might break them. We understand what it's like to get hurt - we'll do it to ourselves - and mostly understand that hurting other people is bad. It's understanding that comes from being material objects ourselves interacting with other material objects. Software is not a material object.

          2. Jtom Bronze badge

            Re: No way ready!

            I was at an intersection, first in line waiting for a green arrow to turn left (US street. Left means turning in front of traffic going in the opposite direction). The cross streets had had the green light for over two minutes, meaning traffic in my direction, and the opposite direction, had been red for that long.

            When I finally got my green arrow, there was a car coming from the opposite direction. All expectation was that he would slow and stop for his red light. But something just didn’t look right. I unreasonably hesitated for perhaps a full second, risking getting honked at by the car behind, before it was obvious; the car was not slowing down. The car blew through the light at fifty-plus miles an hour. I would have likely made the turn unscathed, but if the car behind me just followed me through the light, the most likely scenario, it would have been destroyed.

            I have no idea why I suspected the car was going to run the red light. If I have no idea what alerted me to a dangerous situation, how could I, or anyone else, program a car to avoid it?

            This brings up other considerations. Once I saw that the cars in front of me were about to hit each other, so I slowed down and changed lanes to avoid becoming part of it. Other times, I’ve anticipated that a nearby vehicle was about to get in a hazardous situation, and I moved over a lane to give him a way out. Are those capabilities going to be programmed into an autopilot? What about the simple courtesy of slowing just a bit so another car can safely merge into your lane ahead of you?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: No way ready!

              "I unreasonably hesitated for perhaps a full second, risking getting honked at by the car behind, before it was obvious; the car was not slowing down. The car blew through the light at fifty-plus miles an hour. "

              What a wonderful anecdote illustrating why we MUST move to require autonomous driving as soon as possible. See what happens when you allow meatsacks to control automobiles? They think they're smart enough to outwit the traffic lights, and then they put others in terrible danger by blowing through red lights against protected left turns.

      4. HamsterNet

        Re: No way ready!

        Let's break this down.

        A PC can know there is a school, it's on the map.

        Visual sensors (just cameras) can detect the difference between a paper bag, a rock and a child. Way way quicker than your brain can (biological brains are vast parallel processors of unsurpassed efficiency, but they are very slow, its 0.2 seconds for a human to recognise anything and another .5 seconds to respond).

        Radar/visual cameras can "see" further than a human, in great clarity and in a much wider range of conditions.

        Inferring has been demonstrated in a wide range of tasks by computers.

        What's lacking is DATA. This is why Tesla is so far ahead of anybody else in autonomous driving, they are gathering data from millions of driving hours every day to feed back into the models to "teach" the code how to drive. The roll out the new version and see if what they have from the data models works in real life. Rince and repeat.

        Just on the data, the current Autopilot is already x2 as safe as a human on a highway., but that's a low bar as Humans are TERRIBLE drivers, all of us, especially those who think they are good drivers.

        Fully autonomous needs to be an order of magnitude or two better than a humans in all conditions, once there we will be soon looking at banning us monkies from driving.

  8. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

    The obvious and fundamental problem is

    That Autopilot, is not an autopilot.

    If it was called something else the level of scepticism and the gap between expectation and reality would be substantially narrowed.

    Based on the issues described, even if you still have hands on the wheel AKA normal cruise control, it can make unexpected decisions so quickly even a human can struggle to correct it in time.

    It is an interesting technology but does not work well when roads and other human drivers are not (and probably cannot in all cases) be optimised for fully automated driving.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: The obvious and fundamental problem is

      OR, more accurately, that the general population don't understand the capacities of an autopilot and ascribe it abilities beyond what it can actually do.

      I've flown a plane exactly once - a red-letter day, I'm no pilot - but I wanted to know everything I could before I went up. The plane had an autopilot - it was two dials, one for desired heading, one for desired altitude. It would attempt to match heading and altitude by adjusting the current by a limited rate, and once reached, hold it.

      That's it. That's an autopilot in a nutshell.

      Yes, airliners have other systems that are capable of landing the plane etc, but those are additional systems.

      Transferring that to the surface domain - an enhanced cruise control is exactly what an autopilot describes.

      We have terms for cars that drive themselves - "fully autonomous vehicle", or "self driving car".

      "Autopilot" is an apt description of the capabilities of the Tesla. The problem is people thinking that it does more than it does.

      I went to a test drive event for the model X - the staff there made it very clear that it was a driving aid, and not autonomous.

      I also made sure I got to try it out - lets just say that its immediate insistence on pulling off the side of the dual-carriageway I was on, and that it wanted to accelerate hard beyond the speed limit (signage limited it to 60, the car decided it was in a 70 zone despite a speed limit sign being in clear view) gave me doubts about the quality of the system.

      1. Jtom Bronze badge

        Re: The obvious and fundamental problem is

        The danger with this should be obvious. The biggest threat on the road today is the inattentive driver (some might claim drink drivers, but they are inattentive because they are drunk). As these limited autopilot functions are introduced, will it make drivers more, or less, attentive? We all know the answer to that.

        I drive cars with manual transmissions. Sometimes, I am of the opinion that we should prohibit newer technology, and require everyone to use a stick shift. It’s hard to be inattentive in traffic when you are constantly working the gas, brake, clutch, steering, and shifter. Also, if you have one hand on the wheel and the other on the shifter, you can’t hold your cellphone.

    2. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: The obvious and fundamental problem is

      "That Autopilot, is not an autopilot."

      Actually, it is a fair description. Autopilot in an aircraft will take the aircraft on a specific course, at a specific height. It may have the ability to alter the heading at predetermined waypoints. But autopilot cannot handle potential collisions with other aircraft or other emergencies and will return control to the pilot if it detects a situation it cannot handle. The Tesla autopilot is similar but it does have some capability to avoid collisions with other vehicles.

  9. Conor Turton

    Ghost braking for overpasses

    It isn't just Teslas that suffer from this. I drive a 44 tonne DAF CF that is fitted with Automatic Emergency Braking System and Adaptive Cruise Control. They're known throughout trucking for braking for no reason at all on a completely empty road as you go under a motorway bridge or overhead sign, day or night. The first truck I drove with these systems was from 2014, I currently drive 2018 ones and they do the same. DAF have altered the software, they've moved the location of the sensors over the last 4 years and they still do it.

    It is for this and other things that I'm not worried about my job being automated away by self driving lorries any time before I retire.

  10. Milton Silver badge

    Marketurds vs Reality

    Yeah I do seem to be giving the 'turds a bit of a bashing lately but I can't be the only person massively sick of BS, lies, exaggerations and outright propaganda, whether from politicians or corporates. It is becoming quite sickening.

    A few observations:

    * Thanks for some really well-written posts here today

    * I am horrified that anyone thinks Agile is acceptable for safety-critical systems. Agile is only ever acceptable when you have a tip-top team and where errors and failures are a tolerable event in the development process. You wouldn't use (fr)Agile to develop airliner software, would you?!

    * No one seems to point out that if "AI" were anywhere near as intelligent and capable as corporates and their marketing liars insisted, it would be in cars like Teslas now, and this kind of debate would be redundant. We'd be talking about sensor failures/weaknesses, not about software capability.

    For years, when challenged about the supposed intolerant arrogance of my view that 50% of the population are imbeciles, I have always had the irrefutable reply: "Go drive on different roads for the next hour or so, observing, thinking and remembering, then come back and tell me I'm wrong." No takers.

    Well, now I can up my snark level. The next time some fathead starts extolling "AI" I can tell him to take an "autopiloted" car and let it drive him through the centre of a big city, circle it on a freeway and come back. Then he can dwell upon the difference between actual intelligence and the "artificial" kind ... if he ever returns, that is.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Marketurds vs Reality

      Then he can dwell upon the difference between actual intelligence and the "artificial" kind ... if he ever returns, that is.

      Unfortunately the fathead who took you up on that may well be just as bad when in control of the car :-(

    2. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: Marketurds vs Reality

      Except agile is a development methodology, there is nothing stopping good, safety critical code being developed in an agile manner, as long as the constraints are known up front.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Marketurds vs Reality

        "there is nothing stopping good, safety critical code being developed in an agile manner, as long as the constraints are known up front."

        I thought the whole point of Agile was that you didn't need to know about such things up front, you just dealt with them as you discovered them.

        1. Baldrickk Silver badge

          Re: Marketurds vs Reality

          I thought the whole point of Agile was that you didn't need to know about such things up front, you just dealt with them as you discovered them.

          You're going to want key safety issues identified in advance - things like which certification levels are you going for, what technologies you are going to be using/restricting.

          Contrary to popular belief, agile doesn't mean you don't do any planning in advance, you just don't plan everything to the nth degree before you begin.

          If there are things that are fundamental requirements of your product, then you plan those in advance.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Marketurds vs Reality

          I thought the whole point of Agile was that you didn't need to know about such things up front, you just dealt with them as you discovered them.

          Wait... So I've been an agile programmer all my life?

          (No clue what I'm doing when I start, no real clue about what the final product will be, just start writing and see what Mr Google tells you when you get stuck... :) )

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: Marketurds vs Reality

            In my experience, most modern software seems to fail miserably when it invariably does due to having been written to implement more or less only the shortest and most complication-free path between A and B, invariably keeling over as soon as (more than) one unforeseen factor takes it out of whack. And that is exactly why agile is unfit for purpose with anything that must work reliably: because the whole idea of fully specified requirements is that they're the only way to consider the implications on everything on everything.

            Now, this is not to say that non-agile guarantees that those implications are fully and correctly considered; it's not even to say that agile couldn't, in theory, re-consider every single relevant interaction on-th-fly. Rather it is to say that it is not possible for humans using agile to do that in practice, ever, full stop.

            It's hard enough even for excellent programmers to hold the entirety of the context of a problem in their mind all at once even when they go brick by brick starting from foundations - sometimes completely impossible already with large enough systems. But trying to do the same thing based just on diffs makes it flat out impossible for anyone, all of the time.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        WTF?

        "as long as the constraints are known up front."

        Well, let's see.

        "Drive on a road, any road, without killing other road users or the people in the car"?

        That sounds pretty simple, does it not?

        Now try and implement it.

    3. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Marketurds vs Reality

      @ Milton: Thanks for some really well-written posts here today

      I'd very much like to second that.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Marketurds vs Reality

      "* I am horrified that anyone thinks Agile is acceptable for safety-critical systems."

      I met a guy at a clients site a while ago who said they were going "agile". I asked what he meant. He said they were all getting laptops instead of desktops. He seemed proud of that so I didn't try to disabuse him of the notion. After all, we were selling him the laptops :-)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Marketurds vs Reality

      Have an upvote for talking a lot of sense especially about (fr)agile and safety critical systems. Whn you add 'scrum' into the mix, you are asking for trouble when it comes to the end of a sprint and something really, really important (that is also really hard to do) is not done and is parked on the 'Technical Debt' list never to be seen or heard of again.

      Until... bang. Opps too late to say we forgot to impliement that or writing an automated test case was too hard without actually destroying something etc etc etc

      In these cases, IMHO, 'steady as she goes' is really the best way forward.

  11. Tim99 Silver badge

    We mght be able to have fairly safe autonomous cars now

    Unfortunately the rest of us would have to be banned from the roads and pavements...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We mght be able to have fairly safe autonomous cars now

      Yep. When all of you stop driving, the roads will be safe for me!

  12. DrXym Silver badge

    Hardly surprising

    Any software engineer worth their salt could tell you the immense difficulty of capturing analogue data, modelling it, and translating that model via a set of rules into an action. And repeating that continuously in real time. The more variables and ambiguity that are present in the input, the more likely it is to screw up in the output. In a 2 ton vehicle going at 70mph along a road with other traffic, that could be positively fatal.

    I wouldn't trust any autonomous mode unless it requires an alert and attentive human being at the wheel and forces their attention. At least that way the human can veto or correct the car's actions.

    This isn't exclusive to Tesla. Any autonomous vehicle that claims it can drive itself in limited, or unlimited circumstances still requires oversight. Otherwise it will do something dumb and/or dangerous and there will be no human paying attention to stop it.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Hardly surprising

      The proposal (not very serious) that a large spike in front of the drivers steering wheel would improve general road safety is unfortunately quite likely. Adams (a statistician) in his book "Risk" (http://www.john-adams.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/RISK-BOOK.pdf) a good read , has a fascinating section on the accident rates for police cars when active breaks were introduced, not to mention the increase in deaths amongst pedestrians and cyclist with the introduction of mandatory seatbelts is fascinating.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hardly surprising

        The proposal (not very serious) that a large spike in front of the drivers steering wheel would improve general road safety is unfortunately quite likely.

        Years back a study was done in the US that found that people who start out as kids riding dirt bikes end up being much safer drivers when they get into cars. They learn early that 'crashing hurts' and learn to act to avoid it.

        Those who start out driving in SUVs and the like with all the air bags and other stuff, however, tend to be worse drivers because they start out learning to trust the car to protect them and don't expect to be hurt in a crash.

        It's one reason why motorcyclists tend to be far safer drivers than those who don't ride. We're much more aware of the frailty of the human body, and much better at seeing ahead and taking necessary action to protect ourselves. (Also see the instant change in boy racers who become caring fathers the moment they get their newborn near the car...)

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Hardly surprising

        The interesting thing about autonomous vehicles is that the risk of inattention was identified years ago. Studies have shown that the less you give the driver to do, the more likely it is that they're not paying attention in the split second they REALLY need to be.

        Unless the car is completely and totally autonomous in all circumstances, it has to force driver attention. Either by requiring the driver to do things that signal attentiveness, or by monitoring their behaviour, or both.

  13. Dieter Haussmann

    Tesla needs to pair up with Captcha and stream the camera view in real time, then website users can identify traffic lights, cross walks, bicycles etc.. to show that they are not a robot and to supplement the AI. What a world!

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Basically, driving via Twitch,,

      "Left! No right! Run him over! No don't! Mount the pavement! Spin the car in the middle of the highway! BRAKE! Burn the tyres off!"

  14. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    Relive History

    ...imagine the Tesla dash cams are the cockpit of a Japanese Kamikaze and relive one of their 'successful' missions.

  15. spold Bronze badge

    Adds a new dimension to "my software just crashed".

    Efficiently and stylishly leading you to one of life's off-ramps.

    1. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Where's the trust?

      "Autopilot system should only be used when the driver is driving with hands on the wheel. "

      Autopilot, as we came to know it originally, implies "hands-off" assistance. Now in Tesla speak it comes to mean automated with hands on participation. A student driver doesn't drive with their instructor's hands on the wheel, yet the Tesla Autopilot can't be trusted for even a moment.

      Maybe this "feature" is just introducing a new way to fail horrendously.

  16. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    One thing AI might be better at: believing Road Closed signs. We have a road closure on the corner next to us. Before they get there drivers have to pass two Road Closed Ahead signs. Just now the latest bright spark - Land Rover pulling a trailer loaded with one of those big round hay bales - stopped just outside the hose when the actual closure came into view. Then pulled ahead until he could see round the corner that it really was closed. Then started snaking back until he managed to turn in my drive like all the other bastards who don't believe it's closed.

    I want them to channel Spike Milligan and change the sign to read "We told you it was closed".

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "One thing AI might be better at: believing Road Closed signs. We have a road closure on the corner next to us. Before they get there drivers have to pass two Road Closed Ahead signs."

      I had one of those the other day, in an unfamiliar area. I diligently followed the diversion only to find the road was also closed at the other end. So I ignored the road closed signs and drove up to the road closure to see if I could get to my destination. No dice, so turned around, followed the diversion back the other, passed by the road closed signs at that end and got to my destination about 20 minutes later than if I'd ignored the first set of road closed signs. No, there were no signs saying exactly *where* the road was closed. Very unhelpful.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmm....

    2018-05-31: Thorfinnsson's Take on Tesla: The Stock Is Going To Zero

    Don't know what happened but in May Tesla looked like a company not unready to implode. Did anything change?

    • Tesla is burning through one billion per quarter and is likely to run out of cash this year

    • It is the only company of its size (in the market) offering high yield debt and stock offerings to accredited investors (which do not require SEC disclosure)

    • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly refused to meet with Elon Musk when he was in Saudi Arabia

    • Elon Musk has violated federal securities, labor, and OSHA laws

    • Musk and many other current and former executives have signed false documents and thus committed perjury

    • The Model 3 is a disaster and was panned by Consumer Reports, Car and Driver, and Edmund’s

    • The self-dealing merger with Solar City would likely not have been approved by shareholders without Musk’s vaporware demonstration of solar roof tiles that do not exist (securities fraud)

    • Half of Tesla’s output is exported, leaving it very vulnerable to trade retaliation

    • Quality problems continue to be severe, and Tesla has now resorted to partnering with local body shops for post-production fixes

    • Extreme shortage of spare parts means Teslas can be out of service for months

    • Tesla takes months to refund customer deposits

    • Numerous accounting problems, leading to 86 questions from the SEC for the last fiscal year, compared to zero for Ford Motor

    • Tesla “autopilot” units keep crashing

    • Highest accident and fatality statistics in its vehicle class (new luxury vehicles)

    • Model S wheels and suspensions keep cracking

    • Difficulty of exiting vehicle in the absence of electrical power (no mechanical door handles) led to children literally being burned alive

    • A flood of competition is inbound, including the 600 horsepower Porsche Misson-E going into production at Zuffenhausen next year

    • Tesla’s zero emission credits are set to expire, just as other automakers start harvesting them

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmmm....

      I take it that you are either

      1) a Tesla short (as in stocks)

      or

      2) a petrolhead

      Or both?

      I'm not anti EV. Far from it. I drive a (made in Sunderland) Nissan Leaf 2018 model.

    2. EUbrainwashing

      Re: Hmmmm....

      Electric cars are not 'zero emission' as I guess you actually know. They just cause their substantial emissions and pollution away from the street upon which they are being driven.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmmm....

      Difficulty of exiting vehicle in the absence of electrical power (no mechanical door handles)

      Wait.. I knew Tesla have had some utterly stupid ideas but this?

      When are you most likely to need to get out of the car? = When are you more likely to lose electrical power in a car = 'In an accident'. How dumb can these people be?!?

      If that's true, there seriously needs to be some arrests made among the people responsible. Might look great from a marketing perspective, but should be at the very least 'negligent manslaughter' types of charges among those responsible. A way to quickly exit the car when it has an electrical failure is an absolute must.

  18. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    The company did not respond to a request for comment.

    Odd, considering the story is all about a request for comment :-)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to say: "Eat the rich"

    Seems, we won't need to bother.

    They seem to have self-selected themselves for extinction.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Electric NASCAR racing

    Engine start

    Full throttle

    Left

    Left

    Left

    Left

    .......

  21. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    The preferred option for playing "Kamikaze Death Race 2" ?

    I'm trying to think of some sensible, meditative comment on Teslas development of "intelligent" driver aids.

    But I can't.

    Although "Software shuts down while car is in motion" sounds pretty worrying given how deeply embedded software is to the cars function.

  22. MooseMonkey

    I solved it..

    Got an e-bike.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: I solved it..

      eBikes are great, but if you need to bring a set of tools and spares inventory to job sites, not so great.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just paranoia

    "The car biz has plenty of ardent fans who love the idea of beta testing buggy code at high speeds and reflexively characterize critics as trolls or short sellers of Tesla stock. There are of course people who highlight Autopilot problems with an eye toward investment, as can be seen from this tweet."

    Whilst there is plenty of fanboi seen in Tesla owners, it should be noted that there are a number of forums and even websites, setup for the sole purpose of shorting Tesla. They aim to find stories or news items involving Tesla and attempt to find and publicise any negative aspects that can be used to pull down Tesla's share price. It is bizarre that some people seem to be spending a disproportionate amount of time and effort into shorting this one company Whilst Musk and his fanbois may seem paranoid, there is some validity to their claims.

  24. steelpillow Silver badge
    Flame

    Autopilot - not

    One thing that Tesla's control software is not is an autopilot. No autopilot vendor recommends that the pilot keep their hands on the controls at all times, that is the whole point of the damn thing. Nor do autopilots cut out automatically and leave the plane potentially out of control.

    Tesla need to be sued for misleading users and to be forced to change the product name.

    If it was just called "supercruise" or similar, we might be less inclined to hand over responsibility to it.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Autopilot - not

      "Nor do autopilots cut out automatically and leave the plane potentially out of control."

      Actually, the autopilot on an aircraft can cut out in certain circumstances. It will make a big noise, flash lights and pilots have to re-take control. It can happen if the instruments it uses to sense what the plane is doing fail or are giving data it doesn't like. It's then up to the pilot to use their sensing gear to determine what the plane is doing while trying to get those instruments that the autopilot uses to start working again. The difference on a plane is they often have some time to work with before the ground becomes a problem. With a car autopilot walking off the job, there may only be a single second or two before bad things happen very suddenly.

  25. wayne 8

    Windows on Warships

    Reminds me of El Reg comments on "Windows for Warships" regarding inopportune BSODs and reboots for updates.

    Which reminds me of "The Heart of Gold" and in the middle of an attack, the ship's defensive systems shut down to make Dent Arthur Dent a cup of tea.

  26. tcmonkey

    A few months ago someone shared with me a thread on Twitter containing anecdotes from someone claiming to be a Tesla engineer. If the contents of it are true then I am not in the least bit surprised that the Autopilot software is a bit pants.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/atomicthumbs/status/1032939617404645376

    All hearsay, mind you.

  27. hellwig Silver badge

    We don’t like hearing about any accidents in our cars

    You know that was a threat, right?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Used to have an exercycle

    I used to have an exercycle that had small metalic panels on the grips. Through these it could sense my heart rate and other data.

    Last month I was at the quacks and they had a 1/2"x1/2"x2" block that she put on my finger during the consult. It measured heart rate, blood oxygen and one or two other things, displayed on a small screen on the device itself.

    Tesla could fit some of these types of sensors to the wheel. And they could easily make it look nice and make the visual design a 'feature' of the steering wheel.

    There's also tech that tracks a person's eye movements, which may also be fitted (I assume those who wish to buy Tesla cars don't have any qualms about intrusions into their personal space).

    Of course, since the general public believe (after decades of movies and TV watching) that "auto pilot" means "fully automatic pilot", perhaps the quickest and easiest thing Tesla could do is stop using that term.

    Hopefully sometime real soon a government will man up and start issuing very hefty fines, especially if the person in the driver's seat of the car could be seen to NOT be reasonably attentive for long periods of time. A second here and there is usually OK. 20% of your brain going to a conversation with a reasonably attentive passenger is fine (they'll hopefully spot things you miss), but taking your eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds is bad.

    Companies who provide touch screens to replace the physical controls on climate/stereo systems should also be fined automatically when one of their cars is 'at fault' in an accident. I can adjust all of these things by reaching in the general area till I contact part of the system, then moving my hand left/right/up/etc depending on what I first hit to get the control I want.

  29. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Too much tech!(?)

    Tesla's are just loaded down with gizmos. I look at anything past the basics of a being a manual motor car as one more thing that can break and will be expensive/impossible to repair. Elon had said after finally getting the X to market that putting too many widgets on a car was a bad thing and really slowed them down. He then had that part of his brain chemically removed and built the 3. Sandy Munro praised the tech on the 3 as world class, but I think he may have missed the downside that all of that tech wasn't required to make a car that can get from point A to point B, the parts of the car that he took Tesla to task for being sub standard and heavy.

    If you can't change lanes on the motorway, you shouldn't be driving the car. If you can't make decisions on what lane you should be in, you shouldn't be driving the car. If you don't have time to drive to your destination, you should take a taxi or train not rely on an "autopilot" to drive your car while you bang away on your laptop or mobile. It's still a long way out before automating cars is going to be viable. Because the roads are rather free-form in comparison to trains, trams and trollies, there are more variable's to contend with. Even commercial aircraft travel in "lanes" and are kept spaced out by controllers. It's not like one going the other way is going to have a puncture and jump the center divider into oncoming traffic. Check out the Russian dash cam videos on YouTube for all of the things that will make you want to be paying constant attention to the road and not nodding off while the car is doing a bunch of it for you.

    In the first world, we are getting to a point like NAS (Nerve Attenuation Syndrome) as depicted in the movie "Johnny Nemonic". We train ourselves to be bored when all of our attention isn't being occupied by something tickling every sense we have. If an automatic car is only doing "some" of the driving, we may be worse off than when we are fully engaged and doing everything. It could be an all or nothing argument in the end. That doesn't say that blind spot detectors, backup cameras, closing rate meters and other sorts of assistance gear isn't useful. I too hate it when some shmuck pulls into my blind spot and just paces me on the motorway and if I could see better and have some alarms when I'm reversing, that would be great. I just don't want the car taking the driving decisions away from me until it can do it better than I can all of the time in every probable scenario and reasonably well in many edge cases. I also want the option of not installing updates automatically and being able to skip the odd "feature upgrade" update or portion of update. I'd rather wait a few days and read the boards to see if anybody has been bricked in some fashion.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Navigation is hard. Damned hard.

    I am just going to put this out there. 5 years ago, I though that they would have mastered self driving and navigation by now. But trying to get a car to stay in a lane at 100km/hr without intervention from the driver in a world that was NEVER meant or designed for it to happen turns out the be hard. Very hard. Now I am thinking that it will truly be another 10 years or longer before they have truly mastered it. So while you can slam them because your expectation (and EM's ego) kind of ginned up the idea that it should be better than it is, Self driving and navigation are damned good compared to 5 years ago. Yes, I wanted flying cars by 2020, too, but I am not slamming the auto industry for not getting us there (yet).

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