back to article Sleeping Tesla driver wonders why his car ploughed into 11 traffic cones on a motorway

A Tesla Model 3 driver reportedly fell asleep with the car's misleadingly named "Autopilot" lane-keeping feature enabled – and promptly crashed into a pile of barrels. "This accident was my fault. I fell asleep at the wheel. I wasn't sleepy prior to falling asleep or I would have done something about that. That's actually the …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

    The herd needs culling. Maybe if the car detects that you, the driver, have fallen asleep then it should release the seatbelts? Or just suddenly pull over and stop?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

      "The herd needs culling."

      That would mean God is Evil, as why would God create a being just to make him/her die horribly?

      1. elDog Silver badge

        Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

        Obvious. The gods and goddesses enjoy a could laugh at the expense of humanity.

        You have not apparently read any greek/roman mythology. Most of the other religious gods are just purely hateful, vindictive, and generally nasty - just like real life.

        1. JassMan Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

          A certain minister, attempting to show the Love of God, once gave a sermon about blessed are the meek, blessed are the poor, blessed are a whole series of disadvantaged. He eventually got on to blessed are the thick although he was much more PC about it and carried on to explain that winners of the Darwin Award were gathered back into the breast of the Lord.

          It was a later sermon virtually stating that "you can be the biggest thief, rapist, murderer in history, but as long as you believe in "God" you go to heaven, but if you save others lives, give all your wealth to charities, you go straight to hell if you don't believe in that god", which turned me into an atheist.

          1. unimaginative

            Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

            Assuming from "minister" it was a vaguely Christian/Christian derived church, the latter sermon is a rejection of traditional/mainstream Christian beliefs that 1) repentance, not belief is what is required for forgiveness and 2) sincere non-believers may be saved.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

              Saved from what?

              1. defiler Silver badge

                Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

                Saved to disk.

                1. Andrew Punch

                  Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

                  Hopefully God has 5.25" drives so he/she can read it again

                  1. IT's getting kinda boring

                    Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

                    Perhaps these idiots *were* saved to 5.25" disks - the "double density" ones.....

                    1. BuckeyeB

                      Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

                      They do sound doubly dense.

          2. JLV Silver badge

            Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

            it’s actually even more perverse: the “right” God isn’t “equally available” at all locations: if you’re living in say India, your Gods claim your allegiance, so you wouldn’t necessarily have much option to switch to Christianity. If Allah on the other hand turns out, after death, to have been the correct choice, then we are most unfortunate not to be living in Saudi Arabia.

            1. Benson's Cycle

              Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

              This was discussed at length at Vatican 2.

              I believe (this was along time ago, I don't recollect much of it) that the formula adopted implied that,say, a Hindu or Jain who never encountered Christianity but endeavoured to lead a good life would be saved because the Catholic Church existed, thus changing somewhat the meaning of extra ecclesiam nulla salus. The Catholic Church had finally had to face up to the fact that the "world" of the first 1400 years AD was obsolete and the idea that Catholic missionaries would convert the entire world was nonsense.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

                "This was discussed at length at Vatican 2."

                Leading to the observation about discussions: "If anyone can, the Vatican can"

                1. Dagg
                  Pint

                  Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

                  And "Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition"

          3. SomeRandomFaggot

            Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

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            ***Drugs™ sold separately.

            ****Subject to credit check. While stocks last.

        2. Stork Silver badge

          Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

          Check the old testament. The God described there is not exactly the soft and cuddly type

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

            Which one? Adonai, Elohim, Yahveh, Ba'al or Rimmon? You make your sacrifices and you take your pick.

            (The Omrids, perhaps the most successful Hebrew dynasty, worshipped Ba'al. The Yahvists eventually got back into power and of course got to write the book, hence the bad press for Jezebel. Personally I wish she'd managed to get rid of that bigoted bore Elijah.)

            1. Stork Silver badge

              Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

              As an example we could pick the story with Lot's wife. A bit of an overreaction if you ask me

              1. Steve K Silver badge

                Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

                I think you've got to take this one with a pinch of salt though

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

          Most of the other religious gods are just purely hateful, vindictive, and generally nasty

          s/other //

          Didn't read the Old Testament, did you?

      2. itzman

        Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

        Why not?

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

        "That would mean God is Evil"

        No.... there's a reason god botherers refer to people as their flock - and you KNOW what shepherds do with theirs.

        Om nom nom.

      4. Blank Reg

        Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

        "That would mean God is Evil"

        Total number killed by God in the Bible

        - Using biblical numbers only: 2,821,364

        - With estimates: 25 million

        https://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2010/04/drunk-with-blood-gods-killings-in-bible.html

      5. the hatter
        Angel

        Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

        Life is nature/god's way of keeping meat fresh.

      6. navidier

        Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

        > That would mean God is Evil, as why would God create a being just to make him/her die horribly?

        As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport.

        --Wm. Shakespeare

    2. J27 Bronze badge

      Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

      It should immediately emit ear-piercng screams if it detects the driver isn't paying attention. Cadillac already has a system that alerts the driver if they re not paying attention. Tesla has no excuse.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

        It should video the idiot falling alseep, lock the doors, lock all the controls and proceed to drive directly to the nearest police station, after phoning ahead of course...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

        My car has a system, it is called a wife.....

        Anonymously for protection

    3. DBH

      Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

      Jesus promised to rid us of evil. Odin promised to rid us of ice giants. I don't see any ice giants, do you? Vote Odin!

      1. itzman
        Headmaster

        Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

        Frost giants IIRC...

    4. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: God loves idiots or He/She wouldn't have made so many of them.

      "This is a rather big difference from the time another Tesla driver fell asleep with the driver-assistance suite running."

      I read 'shite' instead of 'suite'. Freud would be happy.

  2. spold Bronze badge

    Fix

    Turn off "Power Nap" a feature that allows your Tesla to perform limited functions while its driver is sleeping.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fix

      wtf? that's a thing?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fix

        note to self: *woooosh*

  3. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Not-an-Autopilot

    God I love TheReg x

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Not-an-Autopilot

      It's an autopilot - it continues in a land based equivalent of straight and level flight.

      The fact that is isn't called 'self drive' says more about it that people having no idea what an auto pilot does. Indeed in the article the driver (asleep or not, he was still legally the driver) takes responsibility for the incident and then wonders why the cameras didn't pick up the cones as something that needed avoiding.

      That's a good question - and one that deserves a response. Particularly since from a cursory inspection they had retroreflective bands on them - did they dazzle the cameras with reflected IR?

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: Not-an-Autopilot

        "the Autopilot system is designed as a driver-assistance aid, despite its idiotic and misleading name"

        As far as I am aware, an autopilot on a plane maintains altitude, speed and direction. Some may also do course changes on a preprogrammed rope, or altitude changes on command. However, the pilot must maintain control and stay alert at all times.

        1. rg287 Silver badge

          Re: Not-an-Autopilot

          The Tesla Autopilot is absolutely an Autopilot system. It is a driver-aid with a set of caveats, every bit as sophisticated (if not more sophisticated) as the caveat-laden aviation equivalent (which requires millions of pounds worth of specialist ground-based navigation aids and doesn't have to worry about pedestrians even conflicting traffic at 30,000ft thanks to armies of controllers maintaining separation).

          Tesla's Autopilot is an incredible bit of engineering. The fact some retards think that pilots just push a button and the planes fly themselves (and that cars will now drive themselves) is entirely on them. In the case of Tesla, the only people who have been killed are the jeb-ends who ignored the loud and forced warnings to this effect every time Autopilot is engaged. They haven't killed any innocent road users (unlike Uber), which in the scheme of things I would treat as a win. I have no problem with people removing themselves from the gene pool so long as they don't take anyone else with them.

      2. J27 Bronze badge

        Re: Not-an-Autopilot

        The average idiot doesn't know how autopilots work. The main issue is that the set of people who don't know what an autopilot is overlaps with the set of people who think Teslas are magic.

        1. Kimo

          Re: Not-an-Autopilot

          My knowledge of the workings of autopilots comes entirely from the movie Airplane.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WQfZYacEAw

          1. NogginTheNog

            Re: Not-an-Autopilot

            An inflated opinion I fear!

          2. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

            Re: Not-an-Autopilot

            Shirley you can't be serious.

        2. Just Enough

          Re: Not-an-Autopilot

          "The average idiot doesn't know how autopilots work."

          If your technology is using a word that a significant percentage of your users misunderstands, perhaps fatally so, then the problem is your use of that word.

          Calling your users idiots for not understanding the word is not a solution.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Not-an-Autopilot

            @ Just Enough: Bravo! It's a a point I've made several times. As technical types here, we should all know that what a term means to users is more important than what it "really" means.

      3. Trollslayer Silver badge

        Re: Not-an-Autopilot

        It is quite simple.

        It. Is. Not. Autonomous.

        1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

          Re: Not-an-Autopilot

          I strongly distrust technology like this, mostly because I have encountered Nissan's take on this and have found it to be an utter pain in the bum.

          Nissan cars have a millimetre radar unit hiding behind the logo panel. This millimeter wave is supposed to detect obstacles in the road ahead, but the defective unit my car was supplied with (now replaced under warranty) detected a whole lot more than that. Road signs, for instance, were thought by it to be deadly obstacles worthy of jamming the brakes on to avoid, which doesn't half wake the tailgating driver behind you up.

          The replacement unit is fully working, or as working as this wretched abomination ever can be. The radar is absorbed by water, so a rainy evening or even slight sleet will render this autonomous braking unusable (the machine shows a warning that it has deactivated the autonomous braking system).

          Worryingly, Nissan is now working on an even more sophisticated system, which also ropes in a camera into this mobile circus of a system (although Nissan's response to the diesel NOx problem is rather more robust now, and involves adblue).

      4. lglethal Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Not-an-Autopilot

        I'm interested why they dont include a dead mans switch in the cars for this very topic. I mean trains have had driver assist aids for ages, and yes they found through unfortunate experience that yes they make the drivers sleepy or unattentive, thats why they have various dead man switches in them, so that if the person has a heart attack falls asleep etc, the train willl bring itself to a gentle stop. Maybe thats exactly what tesla needs...

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: the train willl bring itself to a gentle stop

          Not sure whether it is the same on newer tube stock, but with older stock I'm familiar with, the stop is anything but gentle, being analogous to passing a signal at danger, whereupon the compressed air in the braking system is evacuated to atmosphere, forcing the air brakes to assume their fail-safe state (no air pressure) causing them to clamp the wheels to bring the train to an emergency stop.

          On the Underground the signalling system is designed to ensure that, even if a train is running at the maximum speed limit enforced on a given section, there is no chance of a train passing a red signal and hitting another train.

          Whereas with roads, you get motorists that have a tendency to drive like the lorry in Duel, which is the reason for pile-ups when someone in front brakes unexpectedly. One hopes that self-drive systems work out the safe braking distance added to the thinking distance (like on the tube, there should be a safety factor embedded in the calculation), plus a multiplier for adverse weather conditions, and remain at least that distance away from the vehicle in front. (Is that chart still printed on the back of the Highway Code?). Trouble is, that distance is often big enough for the person behind to want to fill it.

          With beacons mentioned in my previous post it should be possible for a self-drive car to signal to the car behind it's exact intentions in a more measured way, rather than relying solely on the binary indications of brake-lights.

          With that kind of beacon telemetry in place you could potentially design systems to sync cars together, reducing latency at traffic lights.

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: the train willl bring itself to a gentle stop

            "Trouble is, that distance is often big enough for the person behind to want to fill it."

            Someone *always* moves into the safe space I leave between myself & vehicle in front on UK motorways (never lucky enough to travel on the roads at a time when traffic density low enough that it won't happen).

            But in UK, traffic police numbers are very low so you can get away with all sorts of inconsiderate driving as chance of getting caught minimal ("tailgating" is very common).

            Only thing they bother about in UK is speeding (and that's mainly via automated camera systems, get teh occasional mobile police speed traps too)

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: the train willl bring itself to a gentle stop

              "Only thing they bother about in UK is speeding"

              You might be "happy" to know that the latest generation of speed cams are pitching up the ability to detect tailgaters - both at fixed locations (relatively easy) and at distances of up to 1km.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge

                Re: the train willl bring itself to a gentle stop

                You might be "happy" to know that the latest generation of speed cams are pitching up the ability to detect tailgaters - both at fixed locations (relatively easy) and at distances of up to 1km.

                But will they do anything with the information? Anything meaningful?

                As a motorcyclist, I'm much more likely to get hurt by someone tailgating than I am by speeding - me or them. In fact in many jurisdictions the cops encourage riders to travel a little faster than traffic so they stay well ahead of cars to prevent this, and that's also why lane splitting/lane sharing etc is legal in most of the world - we're more likely to be in an accident where we're hit from behind than anything else.

                So I applaud and pray for any moves that lessen tailgating - but it's the meaningful use of the information that's important. Just sending someone a 'tut tut' letter does nothing (like the file-sharing letters), sending the plod with a towtruck to take their car and license - that'd get people re-thinking fairly quickly.

        2. Kimo

          Re: Not-an-Autopilot

          The car makes a noise if the driver's hands leave the steering wheel.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Not-an-Autopilot

            > The car makes a noise if the driver's hands leave the steering wheel.

            I was recently in a hired Jag FPace (horrible car) that had cruise control (the adaptive bit *never* worked, it always said it wasn't appropriate for the conditions) and lane departure warnings.

            The lane departure system had two modes: "vibrate steering wheel" which did an uncanny job of simulating hum lines, and "steering correction" which 'nudged' you in the right direction, you could steer through it, but it felt like you were steering up a kerb.

            I tried (on an empty stretch of motorway) holding my hands half an inch off the wheel and the steering system did it's job - the car always pulled to the right, and 'bounced' off that lane marking, then continued to pull slightly to the right and so bounced off again. On a curve in the motorway it managed quite well.

            It took it a *long* time to tell me to put my hands back on the wheel.

            Assuming I had had a heart attack - what should the car do?

            Stopping in lane 'n' of a motorway is pretty dangerous, but the car isn't equipped to change lanes.

            In a non assisted vehicle I'd have plowed off to the side pretty quickly I imagine - depending on whether my foot had come off or pressed down on the accelerator as a result of the heart attack.

            It's not a simple question - and applies equally to basic driver aids as it does to more complex ones. It's only once a vehicle is fully autonomous (or at least capable of it) that the question becomes simple. I think the Tesla has sufficient capability to pull over if there is an obvious hard shoulder - I don't know if it will though.

        3. Kiwi Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Not-an-Autopilot

          I'm interested why they dont include a dead mans switch in the cars for this very topic.

          But they do! It's the autopilot switch. Turn that on and you're a dead man!

        4. JohnG

          Re: Not-an-Autopilot

          "I'm interested why they dont include a dead mans switch in the cars for this very topic"

          They do - the car expects regular resistance applied to the steering wheel. If it thinks the driver is not responding, it tries a couple of warnings and ultimately, bring the car to a stop, with the hazard flashers on.

      5. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

        Re: Not-an-Autopilot

        The fact that is isn't called 'self drive' says more about it that people having no idea what an auto pilot does.

        Tesla can argue until they're blue in the face that they only meant to invoke the avionics equipment, but nobody's going to take them seriously if they try to claim they didn't know people would take it to mean the sort of autonomy implied by the typical usage of the term. Not to excuse the driver, but it's beyond time to stop giving them the benefit of the doubt and start holding them to account.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Not-an-Autopilot

          Yes, it's time to hold the driver to account - it's pretty well described by Tesla...

          the fact that people don't read the warning is not on Tesla, it's on the drivers not reading (and heeding) the warning.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Not-an-Autopilot

            Yes, it's time to hold the driver to account - it's pretty well described by Tesla...

            the fact that people don't read the warning is not on Tesla, it's on the drivers not reading (and heeding) the warning.

            Human nature I'm afraid. While this is totally on the driver (you are responsible if you're behind the wheel, no ifs buts or maybes (unless the car does something crazy and unexpected like override your input and swerve without need or warning) the simple fact of the matter is humans tend to either not read such descriptions or gloss over them and only take out the little they understand - which is often quite distorted in its own right.

            I don't absolve Tesla of any of this, but I do understand the difficulty of passing on even simple instructions to people. Especially when you give it such a stupid name as "auto pilot"! And buying a car that has 'full self drive hardware' in it, 'well my boyfriend tells me hardware is like the computer, and if it has the full self-drive computer in there it can fully drive it self. I didn't bother to listen to the sales guy, he said it couldn't fully self drive but what does he know? He's just a car sales guy!'

  4. Sureo

    So can Tesla use that as a training video for their AI, so it won't happen again?

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Then they can pass it on to the authorities and they can use it to revoke his driving licence?

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      So can Tesla use that as a training video for their AI, so it won't happen again?

      Yes, but that is only 1 example. Wouldn't the AI need many more such examples in order to "learn".

      1. I.Geller Bronze badge

        According to Google and Amazon they need many hundreds and thousands shots for each.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Tesla provides

          According to Google and Amazon they need many hundreds and thousands shots for each.

          That's why Telsa conducts field training. Personally, I think the fair thing to do is just allow the War of the Robots. Obviously, to be fair and permit innocent plastic barrels (radar transparent? really?) a fighting chance, those barrels also need to be AI equipped.

          This will naturally allow improvements in the ability for inanimate objects to detect Teslas, and vice-versa. Then to make it even more fair, fit the barrels with dispensers so water becomes a non-Newtonian fluid*. Barrels could thus still perform heroic acts of self-sacrifice for non-'Autoeuthanasia' piloted cars, and help Darwin out with other vehicle owners.

          *cheap solution (or is that mixture?), ie simple corn starch or maybe custard powder. No idea if custard would help or hinder battery fires though.

          1. I.Geller Bronze badge

            Re: Tesla provides

            ...is just allow the War of the Robots...

            Wait a few weeks?

          2. Trollslayer Silver badge

            Re: Tesla provides

            Even Five AI are nowhere live autonomous vehicles.

          3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Tesla provides

            Those barrels remind me of the Vulcan Phalanx close-in weapon system.

            Whilst that is a flippant remark, the guidance system uses Ku-band radar and FLIR to detect and track incoming projectiles.

          4. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Tesla provides

            Obviously, to be fair and permit innocent plastic barrels (radar transparent? really?) a fighting chance, those barrels also need to be AI equipped.

            No, just concrete-equipped.

            Even every tenth being so would do the job.

          5. Kiwi Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Tesla provides

            That's why Telsa conducts field training.

            Is that what they call it now when one of their cars suddenly veers off the road into a paddock?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          yet every other AEB car on the market would have zero issues detecting these drums and stopping before hitting one.....

          1. DaLo

            Not true and this is a well known limitation of automatic braking. Fully stationary objects, especially if they aren't recognised as a vehicle don't work very well. If the cones were moving slowly then it would work or if the cones had moved slowly then stopped it would.

            Lidar would also have worked in this situation.

            However regular AEB from most (all?) will struggle and probably fail here. It is easy for them to be detected and work with stationary objects it's just your car will be driving like a kangaroo for many journeys through town and you'll be constantly rear ended. There AEB only kicks in when it is sure.

            1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

              Re: If the cones were moving slowly then it would work

              However, the "driver" would then be wondering what that drink he/she had earlier was laced with...

          2. I.Geller Bronze badge

            Not everything at once

  5. elvisimprsntr

    The average IQ of the human species would tic up a few points if the driver stopped sucking up oxygen and unnecessarily contributing to CO2 emissions.

  6. Paul Herber Silver badge

    Richard FS

    I wonder what FS stands for?

    Flaming Sleepy? No.

    Fail Safe? No.

    Flipping Slow? No.

    Faulty Software? Close.

    Fucking Stupid? Bingo.

  7. martinusher Silver badge

    Autopilots aren't infallible

    Back in the 1990s there was a crash of an American Airlines flight (995) in Columbia that was caused by improperly programming a flight computer. The plane had gone off course and the crew had programmed a correction into the system. Unfortunately they had already passed the next waypoint so the plane turned around and flew into a mountain. All systems were functioning normally but the pilots still needed to use a bit of common sense. This time they overlooked a detail and it killed them.

    Tesla's autopilot is a fine system but its not infallible. Any driver who relies on it without overseeing what its doing deserves the best that Darwin has to offer. The whole point of all of these driver aids is to take the routine workload off the driver and so enhance driver safety. (That's why ABS is so useful -- under the right circumstances a skilled driver can out perform ABS but under the vast majority of driving conditions the computer will always out perform the driver. The driver still has to command the vehicle to stop, though.)

    Incidentally, that was no motorway, that's an Interstate in the US. This won't be the first time a careless driver has run through a set of traffic cones that's trying to protect roadworks or some such. Just be thankful that all we have is squashed plastic, not squashed highway workers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Autopilots aren't infallible

      Haven't looked at the video (I don't watch stupid-porn) but most every US highway repair crew has one (or more!) huge trucks/trailers out behind them. The trailers do nothing but catch the brainless four-wheeled moths irresistibly attracted to men-at-work.

      Why more than one trailer? Furthest back and far away from the work crew is to catch the usual drifters. Far enough that the big trucks will be slowed down or stopped without threatening the crew. The second trailer is quite close to the crew, for the ADHD twitchers, to minimize casualties.

      Kinda silly that highway crews have more backup systems than banks, huh?

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Autopilots aren't infallible

        "Kinda silly that highway crews have more backup systems than banks, huh?"

        IMHO, not really.

        Highway crew fail to safeguard themselves, with redundancies = dead or injured highway crew.

        Bank CEO fails to safeguard their bank = golden parachute, early retirement, knighthood.

        If you reward failure, you get more failure. If you punish failure, then you get redundancies.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Autopilots aren't infallible

      "Tesla's autopilot is a fine system but its not infallible."

      I disagree. I believe that it lies in the middle ground where it works well enough much of the time, but has a strong tendency to lull drivers into complacency, or in this case, sleep. Since this guy was not actively engaged in driving the car, he dozed off. There just isn't much viewing excitement on an interstate highway. Terror occasionally, but not excitement. If you are just sitting there bored out your mind, your brain may just take that as a cue to switch off for a little while.

      1. Alan Hope

        Re: Autopilots aren't infallible

        Indeed. Tesla have not addressed the psychological consequences of driving while using Autopilot.

      2. springsmarty

        I have been guilty of the same

        I regularly drive a Nissan LEAF with ProPilot during a 51 mile commute on an interstate highway. My car is terrible in the edge lanes (far left or far right) because that’s where weird stuff happens. In particular, on-ramps, off-ramps, and lane closures confuse the system. The system works very well when in a middle lane (and there is no construction).

        One morning I was sleepy and accidentally nodded off in the middle lane, snapping back awake five miles later. Fortunately, nothing happened.

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: I have been guilty of the same

          So I assume that you have now ditched the proPilot completely since obviously you cant be trusted to use it without significantly endangering yourself (your choice) and others (completely unacceptable).

      3. Benson's Cycle

        Re: Autopilots aren't infallible

        A kind of Uncanny Valley for AI, in fact?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Autopilots aren't infallible

        Pretty sure that people in non-Semi Autonomous cars also fall asleep at the wheel. In fact it's a pretty massive problem generally. The only difference is that with a Semi-Autonomous system you have a reasonable chance that you will not end up dead, whereas a standard car, falling asleep at the wheel for any significant amount of time will be a near certainty that you will have a major accident.

  8. User McUser

    I am curious to know if the car stopped itself after the collisions or if the alleged driver woke up and stopped it manually.

    Based on the header pic on the article, the incident appears to have happened in North Carolina (approximately here); read into that what you will.

    1. Jonathan Richards 1
      Stop

      Having watched the video, I can't believe that anyone could have slept through the noise of the impacts. Being jolted awake by barrel crunching, to find yourself being squeezed between lane closures and a big truck, might have required immediate change of underwear.

      I'm not going to join in poster-bashing - it seems to me that sharing the near-miss information is contributing to a more safety-conscious regime. Exactly that culture is what contributes to air travel being as safe as it is.

      Icon: TTTR - Teach Tesla To Read

    2. Scoured Frisbee

      I fell asleep in that stretch some twenty-odd years ago, driving across the state late after graduating and moving out of my college apartment. My mid-80s Buick was not so good at self driving - I took out a bunch of median poles and destroyed the car, but was not injured and fortunately no one else was involved. Glad it was only superficial damage for this gentleman.

      That night I did receive a ticket for driving too fast while being asleep. It was certainly true and I paid it, along with enhanced insurance rates for some years My parents also paid for the DOT to replace the median catcher for the next sleepy fool - my graduation/survival present!

      In NC most road construction sites are not populated; often cones are put up at the extreme ends and stay up for the years it takes to finish a project. Not to justify running the barrier but odds are good no one was actually at the site beyond the other drivers. From the video I'm glad the driver did not instinctively jerk to the right upon waking!

      1. 96percentchimp

        "driving too fast while being asleep" - what's the legal speed limit for driving while asleep? Anything more than 0mph?

        1. BuckeyeB

          I was thinking this same thing.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The fault does not need to lie with just one element. The driver was clearly not operating the vehicle competently. No one will reasonably dispute that. But I have to ask why, with all the smarts that a Tesla supposedly has, no safety feature noticed the prominent, easily-recognisable, large obstacles directly in the car's path? There is clearly a major fault in the autopilot and/or collision avoidance system, either in detection or decision-making, to allow this to happen.

    Even if the driver is at fault, you can still blame the seatbelts that chose to disconnect and eject him out the windshield because it was a rainy day on a Wednesday, and sue the car/seatbelt manufacturer. I don't see why such a glaring fault in the automation here should be excused any more than a faulty seatbelt would.

    1. Andrew Moore

      If it was relying on lidar then I would say that the high intensity returns from the reflective sleeves were probably discarded. I’ve seen this on terrestrial scanners.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Tesla doesn't use Lidar - uses Radar and Cameras. Lidar would have probably detected them better in this instance.

  10. Elsmarc

    I was recently considering a new car with all the recent "bells and whistles" as a safety aspect, now being a 70 yr old senior. After test driving several, I decided not. As a person who loves to drive and always has, some years I put 70,000+ miles on a car. And admittedly I like to drive rather fast at times, though much less these days than in my youth. My decision to keep my 2004 Pontiac Bonneville GXP was based on the idea that I can still see OK, I can still use my mirrors and I can bend my neck (plus the Bonnie is in excellent condition). The last thing I want is complacency that will lull me to sleep and a false sense of the infallibility of an "auto-pilot". Driving is still a serious job, assuming a person values their life and the lives of others.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      I'm with you, Elsmarc. I've been driving for many years and really don't want my car doing anything unexpected while I'm at the controls. If I don't want to drive, I'll take the train or con somebody else into doing it so I can let my attention wander. When I can no longer set the cruise control and keep the car in the lane myself, it's time to hand in my license.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Hopefully by the time I'm 70 I'll be able to own a proper autonomous vehicle where I can and will deliberately sleep while it is driving me down the interstate. Well, I'll try to, falling asleep is something I've never been good at so I'll probably be surfing the web, reading a book or watching a movie.

      That's the thing though, this is an all or nothing thing. You can't do it halfway like Tesla is trying to do, because it is too easy for drivers to ignore the road or fall asleep when the car can keep going in a straight line by itself. You either need to be an active participant in the driving process, or a passenger. There's no in between.

      1. BuckeyeB

        You can sleep on the bus if you don't live in Detroit, Chicago, NYC, San Fransisco, or Atlanta.

    3. Trollslayer Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      You have nailed it

      "The last thing I want is complacency that will lull me to sleep"

      Complacency kills a lot of people.

    4. Missing Semicolon
      Thumb Up

      Bonneville GXP

      Just googled it.A definite keeper!

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: Bonneville GXP

        From Wikipedia:

        "Its 3.7:1 final drive ratio is the most aggressive found on any car in its class."

        The rest of it sounds nice but I really wouldn't want the final drive trying to bite my legs off. (It's FWD, I was paying attention.)

        US motor industry speak is sometimes beyond parody. Perhaps it's that kind of hyperbolic nonsense that led to "Autopilot" for "Fancy cruise control".

    5. Ian Emery Silver badge

      Another agreement !!

      Too little to do, especially on a dull monotonous motorway/freeway, and lethargy soon strikes.

      I hate driving down the M40/42 for exactly this reason, the scenery is rubbish, the road is too straight, and until you near London, not enough curves or hills.

      Sometimes, the only way to stay awake is to keep yourself busy, so using the inside lane as it is supposed to be used, pulling out, overtaking, and pulling in at every opportunity to keep you eyes moving and your brain in action.

      My current 11 y/o car has cruise control; other than a few plays when I first bought it, it has never been used.

  11. Captain TickTock
    Joke

    Super Mario Kart

    Power Ups!

  12. c1ue

    I wonder how much more likely someone is to fall asleep when the car is driving for them...

    1. AIBailey Silver badge

      That's a good point, and one I'd also considered.

      It's often claimed that the safety features on modern cars (ABS, airbags, seatbelt tensioners etc) have encouraged people to drive in a more dangerous manner and take more risks.

      Once the car is capable of driving itself to a reasonable standard, does that encourage drivers to become even more complacent? The current evidence of cases such as this would suggest a trend towards that.

      1. Benson's Cycle

        When I started driving there were fewer cars on the roads and about 7000 people got killed every year.

        Now there are more cars and it's about 2000.

        I will take the safety features and put up with the idiot drivers, thanks*.

        *Though I'm sympathetic to anyone suggesting ground to ground missiles for use against SUV and BMW drivers.

  13. smarterthanthou

    Darwin Mode

    Let's do away with the misleading 'Auto Pilot' name and call it what it is.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Darwin Mode

      Let's do away with the misleading 'Auto Pilot' name and call it what it is.

      And since you mentioned it...

      Mrs Commswonk & I went to the cinema [1] yesterday evening and one of the very loud advertisements before the film was for another make of car equipped with "ProPilot Technology".[2]

      Below all the hype (in a rather smaller font) there was a very brief appearance (as in blink and you'll miss it) of a disclaimer which boiled down to "may not always work". Caveat Emptor, as usual.

      [1] The story might be a bit juvenile but the CGI in The Lion King is breathtakingly good.

      [2] Am I the only person who gets pissed off by marketing adding the word "Technology" to all and sundry these days?

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Darwin Mode

        "[2] Am I the only person who gets pissed off by marketing adding the word "Technology" to all and sundry these days?"

        That and "solution" when it's really a compound.

        1. Mike 137 Bronze badge

          Re: Darwin Mode

          'That and "solution" when it's really a compound.'

          The best instance of this I ever saw was on the side of the lorry of a drinks dispenser manufacturer:

          "Beverage Solutions". Presumably, most beverages are solutions.

  14. smarterthanthou

    This is not auto-pilot

    It is simply a "Darwin Mode", designed to eliminate random morons from the gene pool.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This is not auto-pilot

      It seems to have failed in this case. Perhaps a back-up mechanism is needed to raise a sharp object through the car seat in the driver's genital area in response to a crash.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: This is not auto-pilot

        "Perhaps a back-up mechanism is needed to raise a sharp object through the car seat in the driver's genital area in response to a crash."

        I take it that it would be in place to keep them from breeding more incompetent drivers?

        1. Trollslayer Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: This is not auto-pilot

          Correctamundo!

  15. I.Geller Bronze badge

    AI finds answers to asked questions (in their contexts and subtexts - as NIST TREC QA wants) and Tesla and others decide how to deal with the answers.

    That's the only thing AI does - it finds answers to asked questions (in their contexts and subtexts - as NIST TREC QA wants).

    1. I.Geller Bronze badge

      AI isn't a computer or calculator, AI understands and answers:

      ]un·der·stand

      /ˌəndərˈstand/

      1.

      perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or a speaker).

      "he didn't understand a word I said"

      2.

      interpret or view (something) in a particular way.

      "as the term is usually understood, legislation refers to regulations and directives"

      How?

      Through AI-parsing AI gets patterns, which helps is to detect the correct dictionary definitions, and having these definitions AI understands texts. For more please read "Eliminating bias in AI", by Patchen Barss, University of Toronto; https://techxplore.com/news/2019-07-bias-ai.html

      1. I.Geller Bronze badge

        I radically solved and patented the solution for Patchen Barss, Marzyeh Ghassemi (University of Toronto) and Kawin Ethayarajh problem. They shouldn't re-invent a circle, enough to use what I patented long time ago.

      2. IlyaGeller1

        1. perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or a speaker).

        Each dictionary definition word means something in the dictionary, almost each dictionary definition has a at least one synonym, some has up to 500 synonyms. Why to make a new dictionary training your data on unknown texts, why to spend resources correlating them, while there is a well established dictionary with all proper and well-established connections? Train your data on well-known dictionaries! And your AI will literally understand you!

  16. Lusty
    Holmes

    Am I the only one that watched that and thought it was impressive that the car appeared to choose hitting the plastic barrels rather than swerving into the truck? It certainly looked like it started to steer into the next lane and then changed its mind. Obviously the brakes would have been a better option, so maybe I'll wait until it comes out of beta...

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Choose?

      You are making the assumption that the car "chose" to do one thing over another. It may have continued looking at the lines on the road and completely missed it was plowing through the cones.

      1. I.Geller Bronze badge

        Re: Choose?

        AI answers, the car CAN "chose" to do one thing over another.

      2. Lusty

        Re: Choose?

        " It may have continued looking at the lines on the road"

        It may have done. My point was that if you watch it, it doesn't look like that. The car clearly started veering to the right before the truck caught up. When the truck is level it then seemed to "change its mind" and turned back.

        I've never driven a Tesla, perhaps they veer around like that all the time anyway? Regardless, my point wasn't what did happen, it's that first impression from that video is that it made a good decision. We're constantly being told car AI can't make such choices, so this is a big thing if it did.

    2. Trollslayer Silver badge

      No because it is known for not realising some objects exist.

  17. adnim Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "This accident was my fault. I fell asleep at the wheel...."

    Respect.

    An honest man.

    Honesty, a rare attribute these days.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "This accident was my fault. I fell asleep at the wheel...."

      Honest ? Not quite enough. Yes, he recognizes that he fell asleep, and then blames the car for not stopping.

      Sorry bud, you are at the wheel, you are responsible.

      Your fancy Tesla has a bunch of stuff to help you, not replace you.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "This accident was my fault. I fell asleep at the wheel...."

        Pascal, I can't up or down vote your comment. Yes, he is ultimately responsible, but he does make a good point that the car is supposed to have an emergency braking system. Most of those braking systems only operate at lower speeds to prevent a bigger accident from slamming on the brakes at a higher speed and spinning out. I'd also hate to have that system override me if I was well aware that I had hit something trying to get away from a more dangerous situation. It's not nice to contemplate, but there are situations where I would run somebody over and drive away really fast.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: "This accident was my fault. I fell asleep at the wheel...."

          These systems will slow and accelerate the car in normal traffic speed modulation. In emergency the car warns first and brakes if there is no driver response, if the driver gets on the brakes then the car hands over to the driver.

          In the video, the car does seems to be slowing to a stop after finding that the lane to the right is occupied by a truck towing a truck. It seems to violate one of the rules of defensive driving, which is to make sure that you always have an escape available.

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: by a truck towing a truck

            It probably was a bit confused that the truck was moving backwards, rather than "thinking" that it was a truck towing a truck. This is arguably what makes AI so impossible.

            What is needed in self-drive environments is a "beacon" on bollards saying "no you can't use this lane" and a "beacon" on the towed truck saying "this is not what you think it is, use yer brain". This beacon would be supplied to recovery companies to fix on their vehicles when towing.

            *A beacon being something that emits a warning radio signal which is recognised by all self-driving cars.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: by a truck towing a truck

              Coming soon, the Musk road bollard with Tesla proprietary recognition. Note: does not play well with others.

            2. Benson's Cycle

              Re: by a truck towing a truck

              I do not think the problem of self driving cars can even start to be solved by the Tesla approach. As with railways, it is a systems problem. The roads need to be fixed first, and that is going to need a system of machine readable signs using radio which link to cars.

              5G is a start. Millimetre wave transceivers are a first step. "Smart" cones and traffic lights next. Cars develop in parallel.

              Tesla or Nissan will not be part of the solution because they are still wedded to the "individual driver" mode.

              The question is whether neoliberal economies can deliver large projects depending on co-operation.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: by a truck towing a truck

                The roads need to be fixed first, and that is going to need a system of machine readable signs using radio which link to cars.

                Yup, make the roads/signs etc car-friendly. We have enough tech out there to do this now, and fairly reliably as well I expect. There will need to be some redundancies applied, and make the signals obvious (ie don't just have a "50k speed limit" signal but a "50 k northbound from [co-ordinates] on [road]" or something, so you can have different limits being transmitted in close proximity without issue. And repeat the signals a short distance down the road, especially approaching road works and pedestrian crossings etc.

                Have the cars read the signs by camera only as a backup.

      2. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: "This accident was my fault. I fell asleep at the wheel...."

        Honest ? Not quite enough. Yes, he recognizes that he fell asleep, and then blames the car for not stopping.

        Sorry bud, you are at the wheel, you are responsible.

        Never fallen asleep at the wheel, twice technically but not actually been at fault in minor accidents (ie I hit the back of the vehicle in front, pretty much a strict liability in NZ unless the person who causes you to swerve into another lane sticks around and takes the blame - wish I had a dash cam 20 years ago!). I do recognise however that even the best of us can have a bad moment, and I have had the odd time where I've gone from feeling awake and alert to being asleep in a matter of moments (perhaps 'something in the air'?). The guy should've stopped if he was feeling tired but as others have said, the advertising of the car's features can easily lull an owner into a false sense of security. He does say he felt awake.

        But yes, he was responsible for the car. However, the car had a braking system that failed to do what it should've done. Perhaps he brought the car because of the safety features rather than the penis-envy factor (oh look, the bacon delivery drone is about to arrive!) knowing full well that should he make a mistake or not see something the car would help him out.

        He's at fault for falling asleep, but Tesla is at fault as well for their car failing to detect the markers. Hopefully Tesla will give him a fairly decent refund and he'll learn to be more careful.

  18. missingegg
    Thumb Up

    Yay for whoever designs highway construction safety measures!

    That is a really good video. Stepping away from the Tesla specific conversation, I'm impressed at how well the highway crew's safety measures worked. The large but light plastic barrels appear to have done minimal damage to the vehicle. They also don't seem to have risked the vehicle going out of control and causing a more severe accident than was already in the cards. And I'm guessing that the impact noise rapidly woke the driver up, and thus he was able to pull to the side before hitting the truck. Seems like a good outcome all around.

    Now I'd like to see a video of vehicle colliding with the safety truck, to see how well it's engineered.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Yay for whoever designs highway construction safety measures!

      That minimal damage may cost the insurance company $10k to repair. The headlights are nearly $900 each.

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: Yay for whoever designs highway construction safety measures!

        The insurance company will get it back one way or another.

        Meanwhile, in what sort of world does a headlamp cost that much? It looks as if Musk has thought up a long term way of making Tesla profitable. (Morgan I believe works the same way - the profit is from spare parts, not car sales.)

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Yay for whoever designs highway construction safety measures!

          (Morgan I believe works the same way - the profit is from spare parts, not car sales.)

          That at least used to be the standard with everything. At least up until the Japs started making very reliable vehicles (by comparison) thus killing much of the spares market :)

          And that price seems rather cheap compared to what Honda sells parts for in NZ. Even their dealers recommend you buy from overseas or aftermarket!

  19. ST Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Here's an idea

    If the Tesla Not-An-Autopilot-Autopilot is switched on, the car starts beeping loudly and obnoxiously the moment one of the driver's hands is off the wheel. Not both hands off the wheel, just one.

    Keep your paws on the 1000 and 1400 positions, just like it sez in the novice driver's manual when you took the Learner's Permit test as a teenager.

    And the beep feature cannot be disabled.

    And by loud and obnoxious I mean something that would wake up the dead.

    If you want to drive with only one hand, or whatever, you can't enable the so-called Autopilot.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Here's an idea

      It would also be a great idea if it switched off the music and disabled the phone.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Here's an idea

      I guess you think it is impossible to fall asleep with your hands on the wheel. I'll bet it isn't.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Here's an idea

        Plus you're gonna have false alarms when the driver releases a hand to steer (as turning often can't be done with both hands in grip all the time, unless your body is made of plastic).

        1. quxinot Silver badge

          Re: Here's an idea

          >Plus you're gonna have false alarms when the driver releases a hand to steer (as turning often can't be done with both hands in grip all the time, unless your body is made of plastic).<

          A turn requiring that degree of input should pretty much never be made at highway speeds--at least on a public road. Racing etc is a different application, of course.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Here's an idea

            Not even to swerve? A sudden commotion directly in front of you, for example?

            1. Kiwi Silver badge

              Re: Here's an idea

              Not even to swerve? A sudden commotion directly in front of you, for example?

              Nope, not even to swerve. Unless your car has bloody terrible steering!

              Then there's this thing called "shuffle steering" which is taught at the better driving schools. While your hands aren't fully gripping the wheel[1], both hands are on the wheel.

              [1] With the steering on my car, I don't really need much of a grip - and mine's considered 'heavy', so I'm not fully in support of that comment :)

              1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                Re: Here's an idea

                Shuffle steering is fine for when everything is in control, but hopeless when things deviate suddenly. I took advanced driving classes some years ago (taught by police drivers - i.e. the "White Caps"), and during one of the classes got chatting to the instructor about my rally driving. He said, without any leading, that I should remember that what I was learning on the course was good, but that I was probably more advanced than most advanced drivers simply because I know what a car will do when it is "loose" and also have better appreciation of the energy inherent in a moving vehicle. He also said that police drivers tend to drop the shuffle when it all kicks off because it is too slow to respond to changes in situation. As long as both hands are controlling the car (including changing gear), there isn't much can go wrong, he reckoned - though he didn't seem to be taking Murphy into account with that comment!

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: Here's an idea

                  though he didn't seem to be taking Murphy into account with that comment!

                  Yup..

                  I remember once pointing something out to an instructor when I was going for a license test. He chastised me on NOT having my thumbs inside the steering wheel. I pointed out that I've been driving tractors for the last x years, beginning when I was a lot younger, and I learned real quick that broken thumbs can be caused by just that.

                  What may be good and proper control in one circumstance is a bloody stupid idea that'll get you hurt in another!

                  For motorway driving, shuffling is still normally best - at those speeds your average driver ain't gonna swerve enough to need more and still keep the car upright!

                  Oh - and though we drive in different lands, thanks heaps for doing more than usual driver training!

                  1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                    Re: Here's an idea

                    Thumbs inside the steering wheel was something I learned quickly not to do when I had a Land Rover and did off-road driving. I was lucky not to break a thumb early on...

        2. ST Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Here's an idea

          > false alarms when the driver releases a hand to steer

          Why would the auto-pilot be on when steering or driving around in a city environment? I.e. low speed, lots of turns and stops?

          The Autopilot is a feature used and usable during highway driving only, isn't it?

    3. Giles C

      Re: Here's an idea

      I can think of lots of times when you only have one hand on the steering wheel.

      Adjusting the lights

      Changing gear

      Changing the heating / ventilation

      Changing the radio settings

      Opening a window

      Putting sunglasses on or off, especially when approaching a tunnel

      Reversing

      Gesticulating at other drivers (ok you probably shouldn’t do that)

      An alarm that went off every time you took one hand off the wheel would drive most people crazy in a couple of miles. If it needs to be automated I’m sure eye tracking technology already exists.

      1. ST Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Here's an idea

        > I can think of lots of times when you only have one hand on the steering wheel.

        Adjusting the lights: No, if you rely on Tesla's Autopilot at night, you're asking for it.

        Changing gear: While driving on the highway at 85mph on Autopilot?

        Changing the heating / ventilation: Thermostat?

        Changing the radio settings: You can switch the Autopilot off for a minute or two, change your radio settings, and then switch it back on, you know?

        Opening a window: At 85mph on the highway? Why?

        Putting sunglasses on or off, especially when approaching a tunnel: Aren't you required to slow down before entering the tunnel, which would disable the Autopilot anyway?

        Reversing: How exactly do you get to reverse while driving on the highway at 85mph?

        Gesticulating at other drivers: Really? That's a feature you can't live without?

        Here's my conclusion: if you aren't willing to endure the annoyance of a minor inconvenience that could save your life, or prevent you from ending up in a wheelchair, let evolution take its course. Switch on the Tesla Autopilot at night, on a highway that goes through 5 tunnels. And then start a very intense argument with someone sitting in the backseat, while texting on your smartphone. Pay no attention to the road ahead of you.

        1. AIBailey Silver badge

          Re: Here's an idea

          A simple delay counter would solve all of those issues.

          Take one hand off the wheel for more than 10 seconds then sound an alarm. That should give enough time to cover all cases of adjustments that a driver might make whilst driving (adjusting radio, heating, sunglasses etc.)

          I do think the OP has made a good suggestion, and with a little tweaking it could be a viable solution.

          Tesla haven't made it easy to perform tasks like that (radio, A/C) blind (i.e. without having to give the task in hand your full attention) because they have that bloody huge touch screen in the car. With no tactile feedback, you can't simply shift your gaze for a second to put your hand on the correct controls and then adjust by feel as you would in an older car. You need to keep your focus on the screen to watch what you're actually pressing, and in those instances I guess that "Autopilot" is actually a benefit as it's an extra set of eyes on the road.

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: Here's an idea

            The Tesla ergonomics are truly awful.

            In my cars I don't need to look to reach any of the controls. The one that still has an ignition key, I can't see the lock from the driver's seat but I rarely miss it first time.

            Muscle memory has been evolving for a long time, it's far from obsolete.

          2. Kiwi Silver badge

            Re: Here's an idea

            Tesla haven't made it easy to perform tasks like that (radio, A/C) blind (i.e. without having to give the task in hand your full attention) because they have that bloody huge touch screen in the car.

            Yup. I think in every case where a tesla (or similar design of car) is involved in an accident the car manufacturer should be paying at least 50% of the costs regardless of what happened. Good situational awareness has saved me from being involved in crashes more than once, and seeing things happening before the first contact probably saved my life at least once. If I'd taken my eyes off for a moment to change volume or station or heater controls or... I might not have seen what was about to be an accident (with the other driver mostly at fault) and avoid it. Sometimes all it takes is backing off when someone is changing lanes and clearly not seen you're occupying the space they want (and a blast on the horn is often a bad idea!).

            So where the cars have twat screens for all controls and nothing tactile, at least 50% culpability on the makers by law in any accident regardless of the other circumstances.

        2. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: Here's an idea

          > Changing gear: While driving on the highway at 85mph on Autopilot?

          Aren't EVs "automatic"/single forward speed? They don't need the concept of gears to get power to speed ratios as per internal combustion engines?

  20. Doctor Evil

    Damage

    "Luckily nobody was injured and the only damage was to Richard's pride (and those barrels)."

    Nope. If you watch the left-side camera (which Richard FS helpfully posted a link to in the description of the front camera video), you'll see the left-side mirror getting wiped off the car by one of the first barrels he hit. That's gonna cost a few bucks to replace! And if a plastic barrel could do that kind of damage, I wonder what hitting a bunch of them did to the front of the car? I suspect he's a few thousand dollars down now -- and that's before any fines that get levied.

    But he was indeed lucky. Another 30 m and he would have plowed into a trailer-mounted electronic sign and done a whole lot more damage to the car (and possibly himself).

  21. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Elon hats LIDAR

    I think he needs to re-evaluate his stance on the use of LIDAR. Plastic cones, who would have predicted those?

    The camera based system should have also recognized the obstructions. Those weren't pansy little cones, those were the full monty. If they'd been painted concrete or filled crash barriers at a gore point, the car would have happily continued full speed into those too.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Elon hats LIDAR

      Well the car has plowed at full speed into at least two semi trailers crossing the road, plus a parked firetruck, so it doesn't recognize big metal objects either. Good thing there aren't many of those on the roadways.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Elon hats LIDAR

        "Well the car has plowed at full speed into at least two semi trailers crossing the road, plus a parked firetruck, so it doesn't recognize big metal objects either."

        The count is at least 3 fire trucks and a stopped police cruiser along with the lorries (lorry's?), a bunch of guard rails ...... Punch up "tesla fail" on YouTube for the greatest "hits".

        Aside from Autopilot issues, the Teslas can accelerate so hard that it's easy to wind up through shop window if you push the pedal a bit too hard leaving your parking spot. Driver error, certainly, but it demonstrates that 0-60mph times under 5 secs aren't always a good thing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Elon hats LIDAR

      People keep harping on LIDAR just because the Teslas don't have it, not because it is a magic bullet. It has it's own problems, and does not to date work any better out in the real world. Just piling on more sensors won't make these things more reliable. If you overlay an extra sensory layer, you have to de-conflict all the sensor inputs, and attempt to correlate all of their results, while removing artifacts, and determining which objects in each sensor layer are part of the same set. These problems have stalled the F-35 AR system, with billions spent on r&d.

      Tesla moved away from Mobile-Eye partly due to the issues integrating all the radar contacts with the camera systems. Adding LIDAR would make that harder. Also, de-conflicting LIDAR from dozens of vehicles at a time, all traveling at different speeds and possibly directions is an unsolved and HARD problem. I'd expect them to add IR/thermal cameras before lasers or other "always active" transmit systems.

      That said it clearly should have braked and probably stopped in it's lane. It's tricky because of all of the conflicting decisions the machine learning algorithm had to make. The car would have been fine if it hadn't sandwiched between the center divider and that truck. That situation was asking the system to identify and prioritize a lot of conflicting threats, and its possible it actually recognized the cones were non lethal and the weighted result was that crushing the cones scored as the path of least threat.

      Keep in mind that piling the brakes on a panic stop in the fast lane is a GREAT way to get rear ended, as the cars behind you may not see the cones, or be paying attention at all themselves. I know the system in my KIA would assuredly ended the same situation in an accident, probably a messy one involving going under the truck.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tesla is 95% hype and promises.

    The only thing going for it is the high acceleration possible with an electric motor, but you have to be a bigger fool, and pay even more money, to get the highest acceleration.

    Its promoted as a luxury car, but in reality, it is an extremely basic car (on par with the 1960's mini) that goes fast. Perhaps they would be better promoting it as a race car.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Too late for that thanks to Formula E.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Alert

      Ludicrous

      Ludicrous performance, Ludicrous driver.

      A few weeks ago, during a torrential downpour, I was behind a Model X in a slip road/on-ramp to enter a dual-carriageway. No surprises that the Model X accelerated quickly to join the traffic - and then continued too close to other traffic for the conditions.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Perhaps they would be better promoting it as a race car."

      Many of them don't do so well on the track due to heating issues.

      There was a video on YouTube from guy that took his Model 3 out to the track for a day and wore out the brakes. I'd have to find the video again, but I think it cost north of $2k to repair them. I'm guessing he might be the first person to order brake replacement parts from Tesla. It's not like there will be any 3rd party parts for the stock brakes yet. The friction brakes are going to last a long time on an EV in normal circumstances. I wonder if they are specc'd a bit lower than if they were installed on a petrol car.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Only early versions had significant overheating issues.

        Of course you can wear out your brakes in a day on a track that can and will happen to plenty of cars. I've seen cars from some 'premium' brands get through a rotor/disc a day when used on the track. You don't state whether it was the performance version with the upgraded brakes. so unsure what the actual issue was, but it would be easy to wear down a set of pads enough that you grove the rotors/discs and boil the fluid.

        I used to work at a racetrack, brakes would pop quite often.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Pint

          but it would be easy to wear down a set of pads enough that you grove the rotors/discs and boil the fluid.

          I've often debated/wondered on this. Surely, when you have a matching set of grooves in pads and disks (or drums for those of us with ancient machinery), assuming the surfaces aren't glazed, surely there'd be more contact area thus more braking force available?

          Has this ever been decently measured? I'd love to know coz I have a car that can barely outbreak a fully laden supertanker, and aftermarket bits aren't exactly dime-a-dozen.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You aren't grooving them due to the brake pads (the pads are softer than the disks). It is either because you have remove the pad material and are now metal against metal or you have a small stone/metal filing or other debris caught in the pad.

            If your brakes are spongy, then you either have previously boiled fluid/low fluid, your lines are shot, your cylinders have a leak, your brakes aren't balanced or you have pads/disk issues. Generally.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge

              You aren't grooving them due to the brake pads (the pads are softer than the disks).

              Sorry, I meant once they are grooved :) So, fairly new pads on grooved disks, where the pads have matching grooves in them to nicely mesh with the disk. Is there enough of a contact area increase, or will independant movement between the two mean it's probable the grooves in the pad are slightly wider/narrower than those on the disk, and the resulting gaps meaning there's actually less contact area? Guess I'll have to take the micrometer next time I'm at the wreckers and have a look for a groovy set of brakes...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Its promoted as a luxury car, but in reality, it is an extremely basic car (on par with the 1960's mini)"

      Seriously? be sensible. I've looked around one and that is complete tosh and spoke to the driver about the experience with it. I presume you've never actually been in one.

  23. deevee

    Typical American company, using "agile" to shortcut development and customers to find the bugs.

    This Tesla autopiliot is in exactly the same class as Boeing MCAS. Faulty and potentially lethal software that's flaws have been covered up and hidden.

    The only thing for it is criminal charges for those at the top.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typical American company, using "agile" to shortcut development and customers to find the bugs.

      This video was not a remotely equivalent failure. The MCAS overrides manual inputs on the controls and would be similar to the stability/traction control on a car. If the driver had tried to swerve away from the truck on manual controls, and the Tesla had steered in into the barrier that would be a meaningful comparison.

      The driver was ASLEEP and deep enough that they missed both the driver alert beeps from the autopilot and the cones smacking his car. The cars only mistake was that it might have been able to break harder, but we don't know how close any cars behind it might have been. The MCAS was a poorly disclosed system that would fight a pilots active inputs in critical situatuons, the the pilots were not aware of.

      This isn't a case of Tesla using "customers to find the bugs" the customer WAS THE BUG. Starting a Luddite moral panic won't make the roads safer. The Tesla probably saved that persons life by keeping the car from going wide in the turn and under the front of that truck.

  24. Schultz
    Go

    Good safety feature...

    I applaud Tesla for implementing this safety feature: aim for the traffic cones and find out if the driver is paying attention. They might have to reimbourse the traffic authorites for those training cones though.

  25. gurugeorge

    Incorrect

    FSD stands for full self Drive an extra £15k package. There’s nothing to suggest it needs driver input.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Incorrect

      FSD stands for full self Drive an extra £15k package. There’s nothing to suggest it needs driver input.

      Except for repeated nagging warnings on the big screen on the car dash.

      1. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: Incorrect

        Do I really need to point out here that users don't read messages?

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Incorrect

          Do I really need to point out here that users don't read messages?

          Not really when the comment was there to address the claim that "There’s nothing to suggest it needs driver input."

          Clearly there is something there to suggest it needs driver input. Whether people choose to ignore it or not was not part of the discussion.

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Incorrect

          Do I really need to point out here that users don't read messages?

          Which is why when the Tesla Automotive needs to gain the attention of an inattentive Tesla "Driver", the Tesla Automotive should activate a Tesla Coil on the driver's seat as an alternative means of gaining attention.

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

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: with FSD option...

      When I was doing my electrical engineering degree it stood for Full Scale Deflection.

      Hmm, well yes it did in this case too... for the first few, at least.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: with FSD option...

        Re: with FSD option...

        When I was doing my electrical engineering degree it stood for Full Scale Deflection.

        I think the things used to be called "Moving Coil Galvanometer". I used an AVO 8.

        How did so many of us end up poking keyboards for a living?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Incorrect

      FSD is not £15k but £5,800. It is only FSD hardware, there is no Full Self Driving option as a feature yet, just the promise that one day it will be available.

      There is no way any Tesla owner would not know the limitations of system, because not knowing how it works will mean that you'll forever be switching it off accidentally and the driver alert warnings will 'drive' you mad. It is clear everywhere that the driver needs to remain fully alert and in control unless you are outside the car summoning it out of your garage (where you just need to watch it).

  26. farnz

    It is an Autopilot

    As anyone who's been trained to use an autopilot knows, they will happily fly your plane into the side of a mountain - it's job is to hold the flight path you programmed in and nothing more.

    Sounds to me like the Tesla autopilot is actually a bit better than that - it can change from the chosen course and speed in order to avoid issues.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Credit where due.

    He admitted his error by falling asleep while buying the car and while using it.

  28. pauleverett

    what do you need a driving license for? what is the point if it, if you expect your car to drive for you and do all the thinking you are meant to be doing and have a license for? IMO being asleep whilst in control of a vehicle should be am instant ban.no questions asked.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      And if he replies, "I need the car to get to work, buses don't run in my area, and I can't afford a taxi?" Do you tell him, "Tough luck. Game Over. Better Luck Next Life"?

      PS. I hear these stories in general district court all the time, and most of them can actually be backed up.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        And if he replies, "I need the car to get to work, buses don't run in my area, and I can't afford a taxi?" Do you tell him, "Tough luck. Game Over. Better Luck Next Life"?

        Yup. Sorry, same for a drunk driver. Yes, we can all make mistakes but driving a car is a huge responsibility and once you demonstrate an inability. Too many people in this world lose loved ones or worse end up with loved ones needing life-long serious care (especially the badly brain damaged) to people who don't take the responsibility of driving seriously enough.

        Tough. Get your spouse or your mate to drive you to work (surely you're not the only one on the premesis?), or find another job, or go on welfare. You're not driving for a while.

        PS. I hear these stories in general district court all the time, and most of them can actually be backed up.

        I've heard the same from drunk drivers, need the car for work oh please give me another chance... A couple of weeks later their remains, or those of someone else's kid, are being scraped off the road because they got away with it once and decided to try their hand at being repeat offenders.

        If you don't show you can manage a vehicle you cannot drive. And yes, I apply this to myself. There are no excuses for abdicating the responsibility of driving. Better you lose you job and get poor and your kids starve than someone else loses a loved one because you're not willing to be responsible for your actions.

  29. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Darwin Award is calling

    see title, that is all...

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Darwin Award is calling

      Are they calling to say he didn't get it?

      I guess you don't really understand what Darwin Awards er... award...

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Darwin Award is calling

        I guess you don't really understand what Darwin Awards er... award...

        That would be for taking yourself out of the gene pool in a stupid manner.

        Dying while asleep at the wheel of the car you're driving is one of the stupidest ways to go. If he lets his car lull him to sleep, well...

  30. The IT Ghost

    Have to wonder what the person driving the truck (lorry) he's pulling up beside thought of when he saw this car NOT merging in and merrily plowing through the barrels in his mirror.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      You are assuming that the truck driver uses his mirrors when driving forwards - my experience is that a fair proportion only use them when reversing....

  31. Robert Sneddon

    Geofencing

    It would not be that expensive or difficult for Tesla and other autonomous-capable vehicle makers to geofence their products -- provide an over-the-air and regularly updated "map" of problem areas like construction zones on interstates and motorways that would alert the driver ("Wake up you dozy idiot!!!" at 110dB, I respectfully suggest) as they approached the area and then disable Autopilot or the equivalent function once the driver has taken control. If they failed to do so or refused to do so then the car would divert to the hard shoulder and stop since it's too dangerous to proceed in that case.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Geofencing

      The way to do this would be the opposite of what one would think, which is to provide a map of places where self-drive cars are allowed to be driven in self-drive mode. That way, failure of the mapping service would not cause litigation arising from consequential accidents.

    2. Nifty

      Re: Geofencing

      This is in fact the one, only and central future for automated driving. Apart from some misguided references to how 5G will make it all possible, 'beaconising' of street furniture and eventually even humans, is very rarely mentioned when documentaries come up. e.g. it barely gets a mention on this recent programme:

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00073xh/click-the-selfdriving-revolution

  32. Rainer

    I've seen this reported by other Tesla-drivers. I've even seen it reported by drivers of new E-classes with similar assistance-systems.

    Tesla doesn't even have LIDAR, only cameras. Elon is all about image-recognition.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps it is time for pictures of children to be placed on those bollards.

    2. Nifty

      His image or what the car sees?

  33. Kiwi Silver badge
    Coat

    Thankfully Tesla hasn't yet figured out how to automatically overtake.

    But they're getting the automatic undertake pretty much sorted!

  34. SNAFUology
    Paris Hilton

    could you see if it was a Tesla

    I didn't watch the video - just wondered could you see the car at all and was it really a Tesla ?

    or did it just show shots beyond the windscreen ?

  35. Flywheel Silver badge

    More ReCaptcha fodder

    "driven past a flashing "change lane now" illuminated arrow"

    Thanks to that moron we're now going to have to "click all the squares with an orange 'n white cone or a flashing traffic arrow" the next we want to visit a site. Some people!

  36. Alan Brown Silver badge

    2 points

    1: Given that Teslas now require hands on every 90 seconds or less, the driver in question is probably a sufferer of Sleep Apnea without being aware of it (it's remarkably underdiagosed because many medics (wrongly) think that weight gain causes OSA - when weight gain is a SYMPTOM of OSA.

    Sleep clinics are seeing an uptick in referrals worded something like "This person has all the symptoms I'd attribute to OSA, but they're not overweight so it can't possibly be that" - which sure enough turn out to be OSA. Mine developed when I was 12-13 and wasn't diagnosed until I was 35(and underweight) - by which time it had already severely FUCKED up my health.

    2: Tesla's autopilot manual explicitly states it won't work for stationary objects in the vehicle's path at speeds in excess of 50mph.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: 2 points

      Very easy for someone to fall asleep & keep hands on the wheel

      I have seen someone fall asleep whilst holding a cup of tea (not empty - had some liquid in!) - and the tea did not spill (I woke them up when I was releasing their grip on the cup as a precaution, woke them as was quite a tight grip)

      1. Piro

        Re: 2 points

        I have also seen someone fully asleep, sat (basically) upright on a bench, with beverage flask in hand (of the alcoholic variety). It's actually quite impressive to see.

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: 2 points

        have seen someone fall asleep whilst holding a cup of tea (not empty - had some liquid in!) - and the tea did not spill

        I've done that myself, fallen asleep with a hot drink in my hands. Sometimes woken when I've tipped it, sometimes tipped it when I've woken, and sometimes woken just enough to take a sip before nodding off again, only to repeat it later. Or wonder why my coffee was hot a moment ago and is now stone cold.

        I guess some autonomous systems work better than we give credit for :)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: 2 points

          I managed to regularly microsleep whilst riding a motorbike at 60-70mph on relatively twisty roads - aged about 19-22 or so

          Didn't realise it at the time and the realisation many years afterwards that the tiny "blinks" in the background noise I was peripherally aware of in my hearing had actually been 10-15 second periods of unconciousness at the wheel scared the bejeezus out of me.

          As I said, once diagnosed it's easily treated..... Once diagnosed.

          Some estimates are that as much as 1/3 of the population are undiagnosed sufferers.

          One of the major CPAP makers surveyed as many sports teams at one australian university as they could get to cooperate and found that 40% of the 18-25year olds they tested (They tested entire groups involved in sports, initial screening is pretty easy and involves wearing a pulse oximeter overnight) had some degree of problem and whilst some simply needed nose splints, most really did need CPAP machines - to the tune of about 35% of the participants - it surprised the hell out of the company as they'd been expecting 10-12% at most and ALL the participants were active, fit & healthy individuals.

          The problem appears to be so widespread - and testing so easy - that screening should be automaticaly done - treatment is about 150 dollars a year, whilst non-treatment ends up costing hundreds of thousands in heart disease, major health complications and early mortality.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge

            Re: 2 points

            I managed to regularly microsleep whilst riding a motorbike at 60-70mph on relatively twisty roads - aged about 19-22 or so

            That would be scary to realise. I'm pretty sure I don't do it ever, but over 30 years of driving I have had a couple of near-misses while the other vehicle "came out of nowhere" and I'm still puzzled as to how I'd not seen them. One I think was parked and accelerated hard to try and beat me as I was coming out of a T intersection (couldn't have an old dunger car like mine in front of his brand-new audi).

            I've known people who've had sleep apnoea problems, and yeah once you got them to finally see a doctor it's been off to the sleep centre for diagnosis then within a week or two treatment is completed. I think it took more time encouraging them to get to that first doc visit than the entire treatment process took!

            I'm also surprised at the numbers, but don't doubt them though I do wonder if the results are somehow skewed.

  37. DrXym Silver badge

    Meanwhile...

    Elon Musk is adding Netflix streaming to the model 3 firmware. For the time being it will only work when the car is stationary but he is promising to remove that safety restriction for "full self drive".

    So we can look forward to a lot more "autonomous" cars crashing into things because the drivers attention is somewhere else.

  38. JDX Gold badge

    Idiocy aside, why didn't it stop?

    I agree that modern cars should be able to detect and react to stationary objects in the road. Going further, why should a modern car allow you to hit anything at all? It seems like they have the tech to do this but choose to only use it in certain cases - no?

    Forget self-driving, just as a safety aid it would be good. When parking, the sensor could stop the car once it thinks you are about to bump something (you could have a way to override this if needed). When driving, an obstacle could first be highlighted (beeping/lights) then trigger automatic braking.

  39. hoss183

    It actually seems the 'not-an-autopilot' did quite a good job. On discovering there was a narrowing gap, it didnt stuff it into the lorry or the barrier, but rather stopped safely.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      For certain values of "safely" :-)

    2. Kiwi Silver badge

      It actually seems the 'not-an-autopilot' did quite a good job. On discovering there was a narrowing gap, it didnt stuff it into the lorry or the barrier, but rather stopped safely.

      I don't know if 'running over several brightly coloured child-sized objects' is what I'd call 'stopped safely', but at least it didn't do more serious damage.

      Which, given Tesla's past form, may actually indicate a fault with the software.

  40. Mitoo Bobsworth

    Next up...

    The question is, narcoleptic issues aside, will he be thick enough to file a lawsuit?

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Next up...

      The question is, narcoleptic issues aside, will he be thick enough to file a lawsuit?

      Well.. He was in a Tesla..

      One so faulty even the "crash and burn" routine failed to properly activate.

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