Wednesday, January 24, 2018

65 MPH is 65 MPH

Even this cynic has been a bit guilty of seeing "driving on highways" as the simple self-driving car problem. In many ways it is, but there's still the little issue of driving really fast. It apparently isn't that easy to recognize that a parked fire truck is parked.

On Monday, a Tesla Model S smashed into a stopped firetruck that had responded to an accident on the freeway in Culver City, California. The car buried itself under the rear of the truck, crumpling the hood to less than a third of its original length and folding it over the windshield. Nobody was hurt. According to the fire department, the driver claimed that the car was “on autopilot”. The National Transportation Safety Board is now reportedly considering an investigation into the crash.

I have no idea why Tesla isn't being sued into oblivion for calling their super-cruise control "autopilot" and generally promising self-driving features that haven't materialized. From 2016:
ELON MUSK WANTS you to take your hands off the wheel, foot off the gas, and let him do the driving. Rather, let his cars take over. Tonight, at a press conference, he announced that every new Tesla will be fully capable of driving itself. After being upgraded with a suite of cameras and sensors, Musk says this means his cars will have the potential for level 5 autonomy—the highest level, which requires zero interaction from the driver.


Tesla hopes its ghost in the machine will be fully ready by the end of next year, and the proof will be a cross country road trip. Musk said he could have a Tesla pick someone up from their home in LA and drop them off in the bright lights of Times Square, New York—then park itself. “It will do this without the need for a single touch, including the charger,” says Musk.

Narrator: that trip never happened.