Tesla has long promoted the idea that its vehicles will one day be able to carry passengers from one location to another without human intervention. While many automakers have invested heavily in auto features, Tesla was the one that raised prices most, pushing features ahead of other brands, such as lane keeping on the highway and detection. traffic lights. Now Tesla’s long-promised “fully self-driving” function has arrived – and so forth. The company has provided the unfinished version of the software to a group of beta testers, a term used in the software industry to refer to users testing incomplete software and often provide counterintuitive support. recovery to improve.
Brandon McGowen, one of the beta testers, posted a video online in which his Tesla nearly drove off the road or into the median strip. He’s not the only driver who has crashed while testing the software. Beta testers Zeb Hallock, James Locke, Rafael Santoni, Kim Paquette and a Youtuber using “Tesla Raj” have raised concerns. In the video reviewed by CNN Business, Teslas seemed to be passing a red light, stopping near the intersection, taking a turn, almost crashing into a parked car, turning the wrong lane and speeding over the speed bump.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in August that the improvement of fully self-driving will be a “quantum leap” over Tesla’s current and current ride-hailing options. With the first version of the technology, Tesla said he had virtually no “interference”. tell moments when drivers have to take over autopilot software.
Automotive executives have repeatedly predicted the capabilities of Tesla’s self-driving technology. He once said in 2016 that a Tesla would be able to drive from Los Angeles to New York by the end of 2017 “without a touch of the steering wheel”.
In 2016, Tesla said that its new cars all come with the hardware needed to be “fully self-driving” and that it only needs the software to make “fully self-driving” a reality. The software can be sent to Teslas remotely, via software updates over the air. At the time, in 2016, Tesla also started selling customers a “fully self-driving” option, initially for $ 3,000. The feature is priced at $ 10,000 today, after the price increased by $ 2,000 this week. The software is not an add-on, it is only provided later.
Last year, Musk said that the company will have self-driving robots working this year.
Tesla’s use of the term “fully autonomous” has long been controversial and has been criticized by autonomous vehicle experts. For most professionals, full self-driving means a vehicle where one can sleep quietly behind the wheel. A thoughtful driver is not required.
However, the experience of early beta test drivers of “fully self-driving cars” who decided to post the footage online so far shows that there is much to do before no need. the attentive people sat behind the wheel. It’s not clear how many beta testers there are.
Tesla’s technology cannot be immediately suited to human performance, as systems that use artificial intelligence need real-world experience to collect data, learn and improve. But having a rudimentary student driver on the road also raises the question of whether Tesla is doing enough to mitigate safety risks.
Bryan Reimer, head of MIT’s Advanced Vehicle Technologies Association, which studies advanced driver assistance systems like Tesla’s Autopilot, told CNN Business that humans are not equipped to monitor automation. without assistance and at least need a camera-based driver surveillance system to minimize the risks associated with Tesla’s full self-driving software.
“This is an experiment on developing automation with participants who disagree, mentioning pedestrians, cyclists and other riders at risk,” Reimer said. share the road with inattentive drivers using Tesla technology. Reimer’s research has found that Tesla drivers are more likely to be distracted using its driver assistance technology.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment from CNN Business. Tesla says on its website that “active safety features are designed to assist drivers, but cannot respond in all situations. It is your responsibility to stay awake, drive safely. and always in control of his car. “
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration considers Tesla’s latest technology to be a driver assistance system, requiring full attention from the driver. An NHTSA spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business that the agency will not hesitate to act to protect the public against undue risks to safety.
CNN Business did not evaluate in a video in which Tesla test drivers described getting training from Tesla, and Tesla did not respond to a question about whether they provided training to these drivers. are not. Musk tweeted that the full self-driving beta is limited to “a handful of people who are professional and careful drivers.”
Tesla has warned existing drivers to pay more attention to the road and keep the wheel.
“Don’t get cocky,” Tesla warned drivers in a message that showed up when they installed the software, which CNN watched in numerous videos posted by software testers. “It could be wrong at worst.”
Tesla released unfinished “fully self-driving” software to a select group of Tesla owners last week, although it is not clear how the team was chosen. Drivers who posted video clips of “fully self-driving” say it is significantly better than the last version of Autopilot they have. A wider rollout of Tesla’s “fully self-driving cars” is expected as Tesla refines its software, though it may not be clear at the time.
One Tesla owner who posted a “fully self-driving” video told CNN Business that he cannot speak directly to the media about “fully self-driving” because of the non-disclosure agreement with Tesla. CNN Business is unable to independently verify beta testers’ agreements with Tesla and whether they include the NDA. Other Tesla owners who posted the video, including all the ones mentioned in this story, did not respond to questions from CNN Business. Locke, one of the testers who posted a “fully self-driving” video online, tweeted thanks to Musk and Tesla for allowing beta testers to share their experiences on social media.
“Very helpful. Thanks to all the beta testers!”, Musk tweeted in response.
Some drivers have said on social media that they are amazed and impressed by the capabilities of Tesla’s fully autonomous technology.
Maneuvers that seem simple to motorists, such as walking around the roundabout, have received intense praise from Tesla owners and friends they allow to accompany.
“Oh my God. Well, that was impressive. Wow. It was impressive. It just went through!” A passenger traveling with Locke exclaimed as his Tesla entered a roundabout and headed for the exit.
On a narrow street, Paquette said, in a video posted on Twitter, that her Tesla automatically mounts a side mirror so it doesn’t collide with other cars. Beta vehicles of “fully autonomous vehicles” have also demonstrated that they are capable of providing cyclists with a wide parking space when passing.
According to Paquette and other beta testers, who mentioned the report in their video, drivers will report back to Tesla when the software fails so that Tesla can improve. Drivers press a button on their dashboard as soon as there is an issue they want to report, according to multiple videos viewed by CNN Business. There’s also an email address they can use, according to an interview Paquette gave with Talking Tesla, a podcast about the automaker and other Musk companies. Cars, for example, have shown complete stopping when entering a roundabout, even when no vehicle is in their way. Videos show that fully self-driving usually slows down on the speed bumpers, but not necessarily on the deceleration bumps. In at least one case, Tesla’s “fully self-driving” software appears to confuse one-way roads with two-way roads, according to the video.
Paquette estimated in an interview with Talking Tesla that her Tesla could be a good driver like her, if she had “maybe three children”.
Tesla owners are willing to make sacrifices to test the incomplete software. McGowen said in another YouTube video that a safety feature on his Tesla, automatic emergency braking, must be disabled in order for him to participate. McGowen says he’s willing to take risks.
“I want everyone to be able to have very good stable software and secure software when ready,” he said.
Hallock, a Youtuber living in North Carolina, said in a video that Tesla didn’t pay him to do an experiment.
“I just wanted to share the experience, as Tesla asked me to,” said Hallock.
Some “fully self-driving” Tesla owners report that they have received updated versions of the software and have seen improvements.
“It’s just a lot more natural driving, I love it,” McGowen said in a video he posted on Wednesday. Then he marveled at how much better his car could turn into a Target parking lot than on his first tests using the first version of the “fully self-driving car”. .
Less than six minutes later, in the same video, McGowen had to grab the wheel and drive completely on his own to prevent the car from plunging off the road.
“Yeah, it doesn’t work well at night,” McGowen said.