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Autopilot mode in cars really isn’t as auto as everyone thinks #crash

(TECH NEWS) Another day, another car crash where a human thought it was a good idea to let an autopilot computer have the reigns.

tesla autopilot

Uhhh, Jake from State Farm

Oops, crashed the new car. Don’t tell dad. Oh wait, I have a better plan. Let’s blame it on autopilot.

Yesterday a driver posted a dash cam video of his Tesla Model S crashing into a barrier while in autopilot mode. Since the driver was unharmed, he was able to post the video and pictures for the whole internet to scrutinize.

No flex zone

Theoretically, autopilot shouldn’t let your car smash against anything. However, the video shows the car was in a construction zone.

Since Tesla’s autopilot system updated to rely more on radar sensors than cameras, the car was unable to recognize the barrier.

It tried to drive where the road normally would have been, but construction got in the way.

9 months left, @Elon

Clearly this is a problem, but maybe a construction zone isn’t the best place to rely on a car to drive itself?

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Also, I don’t know if I can point out enough that autopilot and autonomous are not synonymous.

Not yet, at least. CEO Elon Musk said by 2017 Tesla will create a car that can travel from LA to New York “without the need for a single touch.” Oh look at that, it’s 2017 already. I’m excited for the lawsuits to roll in.

Same song, different day

This isn’t the first time Tesla has popped up in the news for an autopilot mishap.

Last year, Consumer Watchdog pushed for Tesla to be clearer about language used to describe autopilot features.

After a driver in China thought it meant self-driving and subsequently smashed up their vehicle, Tesla removed all wording surrounding “autopilot” from their Chinese marketing.

Just a big misunderstanding

However, as Tesla keeps saying, people are just misunderstanding the current capabilities of the cars. This probably doesn’t have anything to do with their semi-misleading videos and vocabulary suggesting higher levels of automation than are currently available.

Tesla suggests drivers keep both hands on the wheel in case anything pops up that needs their attention.

In other words, oh my god you’re still driving a car please pay attention.

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Not a synonym for autonomous

Different levels of autonomy exist for cars, and autopilot is not very high up on that list. Tesla’s innovation may be amazing, but in the hands of doofuses who don’t read all the safety instructions, more advanced autopilot features could be disastrous.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, even if you have on autopilot.” quote=”Since robots haven’t completely taken over yet, keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, even if you have on autopilot.”]

Or in the case of Tesla, especially if you have autopilot.


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Written By

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

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