Home Radio waves Why is Tesla’s Autopilot feature so controversial?

Why is Tesla’s Autopilot feature so controversial?


Not all advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are created equal. They have different names and characteristics depending on the manufacturer. Tesla’s “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” are probably the most recognizable, but don’t let the name fool you. In all systems on the road today, the driver must be ready to take over in an instant.

Electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla has offered “autopilot” as a built-in feature on its vehicles since 2015, with a number of technologies that have been expanded and refined over the past seven years.

Basic Autopilot software allows certain driving functions to be performed by Tesla software instead of the driver, although Tesla’s website says the features require active driver supervision and do not make the car self-driving.

The Model S, Tesla’s flagship sedan.
Tesla Inc.

Tesla’s ADAS software and its true capabilities in relation to how it’s used by drivers has been a controversial topic for the company, generating criticism from the public, researchers and safety advocates who say the technology underlying is not fully realized and presents a danger to the public.

In one interview 2021 with CNBC, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said the technology was mislabeled, saying the company’s talk about Full Self Driving is misleading. “My biggest concern is that Tesla is rolling out fully self-driving technology in beta on city streets with untrained drivers,” she explained.

The NTSB has opened an investigation, as has the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NTSB has focused on cases of Teslas crashing into stationary emergency vehicles, such as when a North Carolina driver hit a police cruiser in 2020 when Autopilot was engaged. NHTSA takes a look at Autopilot “phantom braking” allegations.

Tesla Cybertruck
The Tesla Cybertruck has been plagued with delays.
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What are the different levels of Tesla’s ADAS?

The company offers three tiers of technology: Basic Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, and Full Autonomous Driving Beta.

Basic Autopilot is included free with every Tesla model purchase. It can perform functions such as lane keeping and steering assist, emergency braking when a collision with another vehicle or pedestrian is imminent, and adaptive cruise control.

It is considered a Level 2 system by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). There are six levels from 0 to 5.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the construction of a Tesla factory near Berlin, Germany in September 2020.
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Enhanced Autopilot, which is only available in the European and Chinese markets, builds on the base Autopilot by adding auto-lane change capability, auto-park, which maneuvers the vehicle through the space of parking by controlling a car’s speed, gear changes and steering angle, and a Smart Summon function that can autonomously drive a vehicle out of a parking space and find the key holder who summoned him in a batch.

Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” technology, despite recent improvements in beta testing, is still Level 2 ADAS, selling for $12,000 extra to the price of the chosen model. The beta will soon be available for Tesla models in Canada.

Why do drivers think Teslas can drive themselves?

Some drivers are understandably mistaken in thinking that since the technologies are called “autopilot” and “fully autonomous driving”, it means they can take their hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road. Like all Level 2 systems, they require the driver to be ready to act immediately in an emergency.

Tesla Model Y
The company’s popular SUV has a competitive lineup.
Tesla Inc.

the six level ladder from SAE International says a Tier 1 vehicle can be equipped with lane-centering technology or adaptive cruise control while the driver remains in control at all times.

Level 2 is known as “partial driving automation”, which builds on level 1 by supporting both steering and braking/acceleration.

Although not currently widely used, a Level 3 system introduces conditional driving automation. The autonomous technology makes the driving decisions and the human driver does not need to supervise, although they should be ready to take over when asked.

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The Tesla logo marks the showroom and service center of American automotive and energy company Tesla in Amsterdam on October 23, 2019.
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A Level 4 autonomous system requires no driver intervention. This can include driverless taxis that have no steering wheel or pedals.

At level 5, a vehicle can drive itself in all conditions. He is not limited to where he can travel. The only human interaction is to set a destination.

Tesla vehicles have features such as adaptive cruise control and steering assist while also providing acceleration or braking assistance to the driver. Where is the confusion? Some Tesla critics say the company deliberately oversells the technology as a marketing tactic, which mobility researcher Liza Dixon calls automatic washa term that has been used by critics like Ed Nedermeyer.

What exactly is the Tesla FSD?

Tesla Model X
The Model X went on sale in 2015.
Tesla Inc.

Like Cadillac’s Super Cruise or Mercedes’ Drive Pilot, the Tesla “Full Self Driving” update is an ADAS that is intended to perform some of the tasks normally performed by the driver.

The company says the FSD technology can perform automatic lane changes, navigate and stay in a lane on the highway, and park automatically, though drivers must be ready to take over at a moment’s notice.

Behind this technology are ultrasonic sensors and eight cameras that Tesla says provide 360-degree visibility up to 250 meters away.

What sets Autopilot/FSD apart from other ADAS?

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Tesla founder Elon Musk is at the Tesla Gigafactory on August 13, 2021 in Grünheide near Berlin, Germany.
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Most manufacturers use a combination of sensor types for their ADAS technology, as well as a multitude of cameras. Tesla no.

Cameras, LiDAR sensors, radar sensors and more are being developed by technology companies and automakers to provide driver assistance systems with redundancy, which the researchers call an important principle to protect passenger safety. in the event of a failure of one of the systems.

wiggly eyeIntel’s autonomous technology subsidiary, says redundant systems are the best way to “deliver increased safety and significantly higher mean time between failures.”

At Tesla’s Autonomy Day in 2019, CEO Elon Musk called LiDAR an “expensive” and “unnecessary” technology.

What are LiDAR and Radar?

Tesla Gigafactory 1
Tesla’s factory about half an hour east of Reno, Nevada, produces four models of the company’s line of electric vehicles
Tesla Motors

An acronym for Light Detection and Ranging, a LiDAR sensor aims a laser at objects in its field of view, measuring the distance by the time it takes for the reflected light to return to the sensor. From there, it can plot the speeds and distances of surrounding vehicles and other objects.

A number of companies have sprung up to offer this technology like Velodyne Lidar, Aurora and Waymo, primarily for use in autonomous vehicles.

Radar sensors use radio waves to find these same distances and perform the same calculations. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Radar has a shorter range but is better in bad weather. LiDAR is more expensive, but faster and more accurate for data collection.

What are the problems with the autopilot?

Tesla Model S 2021
The 2021 Tesla Model S has 26 cubic feet of cargo space.
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Currently, NHTSA is investigating 12 incidents in which Tesla vehicles with Autopilot enabled collided with stationary emergency vehicles.

Other reports have indicated that drivers have been observed falling asleep and driving under the influence in the past. Tesla has since installed driver monitoring systems (like Cadillac Super Cruise, Subaru EyeSight, and Ford BlueCruise) to make sure drivers are paying attention to the road. Dashboard cameras in front of you monitor your eye movements, alerting you when you take your eyes off the road for a significant amount of time.

Videos posted on social media show Teslas with Autopilot engaged that failed to recognize pedestrians, suddenly veer out of a lane and commit phantom braking.

Research from MIT showed that Tesla drivers are more likely to disengage from the driving task with Autopilot on. According to the 2021 study, “before the PA disengagement, drivers looked less on the road and focused more on non-driving related areas compared to after switching to manual driving. The higher proportion of off-road looks before disengaging from manual drive was not compensated by longer looks forward.”

Should I use Autopilot or FSD on my Tesla?

It depends on your comfort level. Before making this decision, you should familiarize yourself with what the technologies can and cannot do, and with the laws and regulations in the area where you will be using the vehicle.

Tesla says that although the service is called “Autopilot”, the technology cannot perform all the tasks currently performed by drivers. Even the “Full Self-Driving” upgrade requires full attention.

Most companies now offer some form of adaptive cruise control, steering assist and lane-keeping technologies on even their most basic vehicles. There are currently no self-driving cars on the market.