Saturday, September 28, 2019

Parking Lots Are Hard

At 5mph (assuming everyone is going 5mph, which of course they aren't) the chance of absolute catastrophe is minimized (though your toddlers don't have crash bumpers), but there's no greater evidence that adolescent genius Elon Musk is an idiot that he thought they'd be the easy first step in his much touted "full self driving" project. Aside from the low speed, they actually magnify everything difficult about driving in the real world. Nonstandard or nonexistent lane markers, imperfect or nonexistent or nonstandard signs, large numbers of pedestrians who have no defined paths of their own, etc... etc... The also highlight how much the ability to navigate such spaces, even at 5mph, even with people being relatively behaved drivers, depends on various nonverbal communication methods which exist between drivers even if imperfectly. The eye contact. The wave. The light flash. The slight pull forward-then-stop to make clear you are stopped. Also you know things even the best robot driver likely can't, especially as parking lots are infinite in their variety and unmapped, such as the fact that there's a good chance someone's going to be entering the parking lot suddenly and you'd better be aware of that particular point.

Musk is unleashing his supposedly better "smart summons" which allows you to supposedly push a button and have your car find you in a parking lot. Even as advertised it's more limited than this. It has to be fairly close, you have to hold the button at all times for it to move, and you're supposed to keep an eye on it and take your finger off the button for sudden braking (your only option if things go wrong).

It is not going to go well.

(people are posting videos of actual crashes but as I don't want to help them torpedo their insurance claim I won't repost them)