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Oi, Elon: You Musk sort out your Autopilot! Tesla loyalists tell of code crashes, near-misses

Lee D Silver badge

Deathtrap v0.98

Sorry, but we just don't have software capable of this kind of thing reliably, and despite Tesla using every trick in the book (including "hard-coding" instructions to do things like "ignore that bridge, because it's not actually a bridge" in certain geographical locations that they know it has a hard time interpreting) it can't ever be safe like that.

These are the diligent few, the ground-breakers, the ones willing to put up with flaws in the system to say they have a new. When it gets into the budget/hands of the general public it's going to come to light quite how dangerous these things have *always* been.

This is why the software claims were looked on dubiously from day one. We just don't have systems capable of doing the things they are claiming, and likely won't until some actual proper AI revolution (not the current "AI" fad which is just statistics and brute-force until the software plateaus doing a half-job and takes longer to un-train it from bad behaviour than anything else, and which we have no idea how it's actually inferring/making decisions, yet we pretend we can still make it do what we want).

Dan 55 Silver badge

Deathtrap v0.98?

I see you're ahead of everyone else, they're on Deathtrap v0.97.20181110.beta

werdsmith Silver badge

Sorry, but we just don't have

Another one who apologises for his comment before even writing it.

Accepted.

Semtex451 Silver badge
Coat

Tesla types tweet ton of totally terrible trips

Crisp Silver badge

Say what you like about Teslas

But I've never had one try and move into a lane I'm occupying.

Human drivers seem to be on a mission to try and knock me off my bike.

defiler Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

I'll second that. Yesterday I was actually surprised to get home, and in one piece...

imanidiot Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

Must not have encountered one in the right circumstances then. Because I've seen one try to take out 2 bikers at once recently. Was hard to tell if it was using autopilot but the driver was clearly more concerned with his phone than driving the car.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

Though I utterly agree, I do wonder why you continue to put your life at risk.

I used to be a cyclist. I stopped. There's no way I can justify being a tiny little unprotected, invisible thing sharing a road with 18-ton lorries, whether they look or not. People in cars get wiped out by such things every day, but at least they have a ton of steel around them designed to do nothing other than save their lives. On a bike, you don't even have that. Even putting a huge motor between my legs wouldn't improve that situation noticeably at all.

I'm not against cycling in any way - I actually think cyclists should be allowed to cycle on pavements if it's safe to do so. Motorbikes I think are fecking suicidal. Not only can you get hit, but you can go fast enough that it's instantaneous death, do not pass Go, do not collect £200.

But I cannot, for my own sake, justify being on a road in the modern era on anything approaching a two-wheeled vehicle. We laughed the Sinclair C5 off the road for safety reasons, why haven't we done the same for bikes?

Some 75% of road deaths are people on bikes. Literally, your life expectancy is lowered substantially being a regular user of one.

No matter what "should" be the case, why would any sensible person continue to partake in such a venture? I "should" be able to walk through the streets of London at 3am, counting ten thousand pounds out into my hand. I don't because that's just such an incredibly stupid thing to do, even if I simultaneously campaign for change in that regard.

Honestly... how do you justify, after several near misses / actual hits, continuing to use a bike? "Out of principle?"

I know I gave it up and wouldn't go back, and it's entirely unrelated to how well *I* can ride one / drive when I'm around one.

Tim Hughes

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

@Lee D

What is the point of your comment, and why so inaccurate?

20 seconds with Google:

- 2017, UK Road deaths, cyclists, 101 people, 6% of the total.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/744077/reported-road-casualties-annual-report-2017.pdf

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

Chart 6 / 7: Casualty / fatality rate per billion passenger miles by road user type: GB, 2017

<-- mathematician.

There's no point in comparing cyclists who cycle 200 yards to motorbikes who drive 200 miles.

P.S. That's GB only. Worldwide, it's INCREDIBLY higher.

45RPM Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

@Lee D

I cycle thousands of miles a year (usually - this year I've been lazy and only cracked 1,000) but, whilst I agree that cycling can be risky given the number of utter morons daydreaming in their steel cages whilst (erroneously) imagining that they own the road*, the only way that it's going to get safer is if more people get on their bikes.

When in more enlightened countries, like the Netherlands, I've noticed that the roads are safer (for pedestrians too) and the air is cleaner. All because people leave the car at home for short journeys and get on their bicycles instead.

The future has to be pedal powered for short journeys (electric for long ones)

* Before anyone complains that cyclists don't pay vehicle tax, I'd like to get a preemptive 'Wrong' in here. Most adult cyclists are also motorists and hence most pay vehicle tax. Furthermore, I've never heard a complaint levelled against me for not paying vehicle tax on my classic car, or my wife not paying vehicle tax on her greener-than-thou-mobile. Out of three cars, we only actually have to shell out for one - but it's the bike, the one that uses the least space, and does the least damage, that people whinge about. Crazy!

Crisp Silver badge

Re: I've seen one try to take out 2 bikers at once recently.

If I do get knocked off my motorcycle, I can guarantee you that it will be some twonk on his mobile phone.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

"When in more enlightened countries, like the Netherlands, I've noticed that the roads are safer (for pedestrians too) and the air is cleaner. All because people leave the car at home for short journeys and get on their bicycles instead."

In my town (in Hampshire, in the UK) there's a gradually increasing number of people taking their kids to school on danish child transport tricycles and dutch bakfiets. Speaking as the owner of a 2 wheeled bakfiets, it's a damn sight more pleasant than using the car for the school or nursery run. Sadly, my kids are now self propelled, and the Bakfiets now only comes out for big supermarket shopping trips.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

"I agree that cycling can be risky given the number of utter morons daydreaming in their steel cages whilst (erroneously) imagining that they own the road"

What I see as a driver and a long-ago cyclist are numerous cyclists who seem to have abdicated all responsibility for their own safety to others. If such cyclists are going to rely on telepathy and miraculous braking and steering to keep them safe then it's not surprising there are so many accidents.

John Brown (no body) Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

"What I see as a driver and a long-ago cyclist are numerous cyclists who seem to have abdicated all responsibility for their own safety to others. If such cyclists are going to rely on telepathy and miraculous braking and steering to keep them safe then it's not surprising there are so many accidents."

Agreed, also a driver and ex-cyclist. There are a significant number of twats driving cars that don't take reasonable care around cyclists, but equally, there are a significant number of twats on bikes who care nothing for either their own safety or that of others. These two groups cause the creation of the extremist drivers who blame all cyclists and extremist cyclists who blame all car drivers, which helps no one.

bombastic bob Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

not just bicycles "not being seen", but motorcycles and convertibles with the top down. It's because car mirrors just aren't adequate, and it's easy to NOT see things under certain conditions.

As for me, I avoid riding in people's blind spots, and get REALLY irritated with "pacers" who match my speed and hang out in MY blind spots. [those people are idiots]

Now if I could just B-slap the [blank] out of people who insist on (or are ignorant of) having their headlights aimed too high [especially in fog] it'd be a lot better out there... that and people who won't [blanking] STEP ON THE GAS PEDAL when the light turns green, or space opens up in front of them. @#$% slow pokes BLOCKING THE LANE...

bombastic bob Silver badge
Stop

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

"the only way that it's going to get safer is if more people get on their bikes"

easy to say (perhaps even smugly), not practical because of:

a) weather

b) hills

c) distance

d) age

factor those in, and our 'steel cages' are much more practical. It has been so for over 100 years.

The only alternative would be horse-drawn carts, and THEN you'd hear the constant b.i.itching and whining about the HORSE CRAP everywhere, and the stench, and the flies, and the need to grow all of that hay, yotta yottta (and horse farts spewing methane which really IS a greenhouse gas).

Things are the way they are because it's actually BETTER this way.

John Smith 19 Gold badge
Coat

"There's no way I can justify being a tiny little unprotected, invisible thing sharing a road

with 18-ton lorries, "

I knew someone like this.

She said it woke her up coming into work in the morning.*

*She was also a mountain climber. She didn't like hobbies you couldn't get killed doing.

Criggie
WTF?

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

> Some 75% of road deaths are people on bikes.

[Citation needed]

Let's not have made-up numbers thrown about please.

Someone Else Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

e) A winter in Chicago.

For those of you from the Right side of the pond, consider a dry 20-25 mph wind which always seems to be blowing in your face, with an air temperature of roughly 20 degF, and full sun, not a cloud in the sky. Pretty, to be sure, but after a week of that, even the most strident CycleNazi will be clamoring for a trip to the store in a car.

45RPM Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

@Bob

I enjoy my car. It’s well over half a century old and it’s fun to drive. I like my modern car too, it’s comfortable - but, as with *nearly* every modern car, so laden with bells and whistles and driver aids that it’s actually quite dull to drive. But I love my bicycle. Taking your points:

1 I ride it in all weathers. Remarkably, I find that it doesn’t care or stop working because it’s wet out - so why should I? I once rode it for over 250 miles in driving rain and wind.

2 ...and the Brecon Beacons didn’t present a problem either.

3 See point 1. But, as you’ll remember, I did say electric cars FTW for longer distances. Or when carrying heavy loads.

4 Yeah. But no. I’m closer to grave than cradle, and my dear old mum is in her 80s. She still rides 60 mile plus distances - and uses her bike for everything since she doesn’t have a car.

So those are just excuses. Not very valid ones either, I’m afraid.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas @bob

I drive a lot on un-lit roads (it's a hazard of living in a rural environment), and it is not just drivers who have their lights set too high that bother me.

The super-bright LED lights on cars coming in the opposite direction are enough to upset night vision even when they're adjusted correctly and not on high-beam. They're just too bright.

What surprised me a while back was that these super-bright lights are also being put on pushbikes. This is just wrong, especially when they are set to flash. Even if they don't flash, when you come across one, you have to look hard to see past them to make sure they are not a car with one light not working (and thus difficult to see how much of the road they occupy.)

And don't get me started on the stupidity that allows manufacturers to put indicator lights next to or surrounded by high brightness side lights, especially if the sidelight has to turn off when the indicator turns on to allow the indicator to be seen. You get a light that just appears to go from white to orange, without the required change in contrast. Why are they even allowed in the homologation tests!

really_adf

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

There are a significant number of twats driving cars that don't take reasonable care around cyclists, but equally, there are a significant number of twats on bikes who care nothing for either their own safety or that of others.

There are a significant number of twats driving cars that don't take reasonable care (no further qualification needed). Same riding (push) bikes.

I doubt the ratios differ much, but in reality the twats on bikes mostly endanger themselves, while those in cars mostly endanger others. Very different types of twat.

John Brown (no body) Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas @bob

@Peter Gathercole

Re the bright LED/HID lights on cars and the horribly bright constant "camera flash" lights on so many bikes. I can't upvote you more than once, so have 100 virtual upvotes from me.

I'm not sure if there are any rules/laws/regulations on the brightness of lights on vehicles, but the Highway Code does specify that headlights must be used in such way as to not dazzle other road users. Some of these HID LED headlights are so bright that they dazzle by design on the "wrong" shaped road, eg a right hand bend downhill from my perspective means oncoming superbright headlights dazzle me. Likewise oncoming traffic or traffic behind going over bumps and going off like camera flashes.

MachDiamond Silver badge

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

"@Lee D

What is the point of your comment, and why so inaccurate?

20 seconds with Google:

- 2017, UK Road deaths, cyclists, 101 people, 6% of the total."

That's just deaths. Being pitched from your bike and winding up in a wheelchair or even being relatively lucky and escaping major injury could still put you off work for a week or two. A similar smash up while you're in a car might lose you the use of the car, but you could still get to work the next day without needing special accommodation for your new handicap.

I used to ride and race bicycles all of the time and loved it. I rarely used it as a way to get to work and back except at one job that was not too far and accessible via low traffic streets. Before I got my license, I had one job that was a fair ride, but I got a ride home after dark.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

Now if I could just B-slap the [blank] out of people who insist on (or are ignorant of) having their headlights aimed too high [especially in fog]

You nearly got a very rare down vote to add to your meagre total, but this paragraph changed my mind to an upvote. I'd vote for a law that limits the amount of light emitted from the front of the vehicle when on 'low beam' and also mandatory impounding of cars where the lights aren't adjusted.

Add in those 'rear fog guard' lights that sometimes mask the brake lights (and I've heard are illegal except in fog in some countries, but too low on the ticket list for cops to bother)

There is, however, good reason to go easier on the gas when space opens up. Traffic flows could be greatly improved if people actually allowed more space in front, meaning they don't have to stop just because the car in front did (they slow down, the car in front moves on, they speed up...)

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

a) weather

b) hills

c) distance

d) age

Not really. You get used to hills, the weather isn't an issue with proper gear and you can make alternative plans if you're too soft to go out in the rain.

B, C and D are irrelevant. Friends of mine have just returned from a few months cycle tour around Europe. Next year they plan to cross the US on their bikes. He turns 78 at his next birthday. Pretty sure they'll see plenty of hills, cover at least a couple of dozen miles while they ride across the US, and age - well they're both retired so....

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

Honestly... how do you justify, after several near misses / actual hits, continuing to use a bike? "Out of principle?"

I use a bike for convenience, health, safety and enjoyment factors.

Convenience - actually generally much easier for me to get the bike out and do a job than it is to get the behemoth out. Transporting tons of steel just to go down the local shops? Utter idiocy! Also, since I can lane-split and pass thousands upon thousands of cars stuck in traffic at any one time...

Health - we're talking motorbike here. I actually get stressed and claustrophobic in cars. I have been in one bad and a couple of minor crashes. In quite literally hundreds of thousands of miles of riding over the last 4 decades I've had some close calls and 3 incidents I rate as crashes, although only two of them actually resulted in the bike also stopping and only one resulting in a need to pick the bike back up. While I drive (or am even in a car) I have to manage my anxiety levels and that sort of thing can take a lot of effort. It often takes a few hours for the stress levels to fade when I'm home or somewhere else as well. But with the bike, while I am vigilant I am also much more relaxed. My over-all mental health is far better, and that has obvious benefits for my physical health as well.

Safety - see above. I've done a lot of training and continue to do so. Also, by being a rider and understanding how vulnerable you are I am much more aware of what's going on around me. Get in a head-on with a truck in your car with all the bells and whistles, you'll be just as dead as I am. But I have the advantage of a smaller and more manoeuvrable vehicle. With the right alignment of stars I can even drop it and slide underneath the truck. That said, I've only been in such a situation a couple of times, few people get enough chance to practice head-on avoidance. But if I was to see it coming, I'd have better odds of avoiding it on a bike than in a car.

Enjoyment - see the stresses above, plus I love riding for all the normal reasons people love riding. And I can do it knowing that I pollute far less.

It's also worth noting that in places where buses aren't common, car drivers are blind to buses when they drive through the area. But where push bikes or pedestrians are common, people see them much more easily. Humans have an easier time seeing what they're used to. Observing bikes often programs your mind with all sorts of useful information about how fast they're coming and trajectories and the like. Watch a professional cricketer and you'll see they only need a moment of seeing the bat hit the ball to know where the ball is going to go. See them run for a catch, looking at where the ball is heading rather than looking at where the ball is. They're used to seeing it. I've been able to ride in areas where bikes lane-splitting is very common and in areas where bikes are only seen occasionally. The driving where bikes are common is very different to that where they're seldom seen. Same for buses, trucks, peds, whatever.

Point of that last bit is this : Increase the number of bikes on the road, and you'll increase the safety of bikes on the road. (Also, increase the jail-time for people caught using their phones whilst driving!)

Pascal Monett Silver badge

I went and read that "detailed critique" and, wow.

It's no surprise that Musk insists that the Autopilot is to be used with your hands on the wheel. With the amount of confirmation requests, it seems like the driver doesn't have time to take them off the wheel.

The list of things that go wrong would be hilarious if we were talking about a game, but it is chilling when you realize that we're talking about real life.

I have no intention of buying a Tesla, but if I did I would not use Autopilot for damn sure.

werdsmith Silver badge

My radar adaptive cruise sensor will occasionally just tell me it's not playing anymore until I clean the sensor. Usually on motorways in bad weather. It also won't play unless the windscreen is totally defrosted.

But when it works (99% of the time) it's wonderful.

GeordieSteve

No way ready!

Until I have seen lorries and coaches using this technology on the motorways for a couple of years would I even trust it under similar circumstance.

When trying to develop firmware for such environments it is easy to overlook the noisy environment that the code is trying to interpret and basically over simplify the problems (especially if you have no real appreciation of the technology, that is probably you Mr Musk and the media in general).

We really are no where near trying to emulate a human response to an environment, we may perform the odd trick, but what the human body does is still beyond us.

I think of what we do as a wave, that hits our senses and propagates through a very complex filter and feedback system and on to the muscles etc. Neural networks are an approximation and probably the closest we have to a solution, but they are generally large, slow and basically an unknown quantity at the moment.

I feel fairly confident in saying that autonomous vehicles will happen, but the environment they work in will need to be structured to support them.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: No way ready!

Computers are singularly unable to infer.

We know why there's a shadow on the ground coming from between those parked cars in that lit street... we know that's there's a school on the right and the kids are playing football against the very fence that we're driving past... we know that the pillock in front is driving contrary to all road laws and that means we have to be much more careful interpreting the situation around him... we know that the thing that moved out from between the parked cars might just be a child, or it might be a paper bag that would look solid but not actually be so... we can infer that the blue-lights around the corner ahead mean we should approach with more caution than normal... we know that though we *could* make that gap, it's probably not safe or sensible to do so because it relies on everyone else continuing to drive exactly as they are, yet they are human too.

Computers cannot infer. They react only. Have you ever been in a car that is driven by someone purely on reaction? We're not talking rally drivers (they are scary enough, but because they are reading the situation and taking calculated risks that we wouldn't), but people who literally have no sense of the road and just drive based on what's six-inches off their bonnet? It's terrifying, no matter how skilled a driver you think you are personally, the one thing that will make me get out your car is that you're only *reacting* to what happens to you, not *predicting* or *infering* or *adjusting* to the scenario.

That's what the cars are doing. Reacting. They have no way to infer even the basic properties of the objects around them (e.g. the paper bag scenario... there is no sensor on a Tesla that can distinguish between a paper bag and a rock... so does it swerve to avoid the paper bag, or does it drive straight into the rock?). They certainly can't infer anything about the wider situation. That makes them dangerous. More so in that, in ideal conditions, they operate fine and gain the user's confidence. Nobody cares about that. Ideal-condition driving is both pleasant and fun, personally. That's the bit I don't *want* the car doing. But it's not capable of the bit I don't want to have to do at all... adjust to a rapidly-changing scenario or infer the intentions of other drivers, or even infer the properties of the road ahead.

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: No way ready!

But it's not capable of the bit I don't want to have to do at all.

Indeed. If I had a self driving car, the bits I'd want it to do are the horrible driving in busy traffic; in poor light/darkness, or poor driving conditions like heavy rain, fog, or snow, or unpredictable urban stop/start congestion.

I know Tesla are only offering Autopilot as a fairweather friend, but when you look at what it can do, it is so far off what would actually be useful.

Alister Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: No way ready!

Dammit Lee, stop writing things I agree with...

;)

Oddlegs

Re: No way ready!

I'm not sure if there's really a difference between inferring and reacting. You see a shadow emerging between two parked cars. You know there's a school nearby so you infer it could be a child and slow down a bit just in case. Or did you react to seeing a person shaped shadow and hence slow down? Every scenario you describe is one a computer could learn/be programmed to recognise. Sure there are countless other scenarios which could be envisaged (or even not envisaged). A human is far more capable of dealing with something unexpected that they haven't encountered before than a computer. But a computer doesn't need to be perfect to be useful when it comes to driving. It doesn't even have to be as good as a 'good' driver. It only needs to be better than an 'average' driver. As long as such vehicles 'fail safe' when they're not sure about something by slowing or even stopping completely then I don't see a problem (provided it's not happening every 100m).

I don't think the current tech is anywhere close to being good enough but it'll get there eventually

Lee D Silver badge

Re: No way ready!

The difference is quite obvious.

I know that the shadow is cast by a person. The computer doesn't. It has to be told. There's no driving instruction / test where they tell you "watch out for shadows", specifically. A human, though, is able to look at the situation (blue lights / shadow / kid running from the fields several feet off the road / the sight of a ball crossing the road in front of you which is likely to be followed by a small child retrieving it, etc.) and infer things about it that aren't present in the raw data.

The computer *cannot* do this. They can't learn like that. They can't infer anything that's not absolutely 100% inherent in the data or programmed in. They can't slow down every time you pass a police car with blue lights, nor can they track every object to the point that it realises it's a ball and cast the trajectory back to its likely origin without also slamming the brakes on for a paper bag blowing across a motorway.

The machines do *not* infer data. They are incapable of doing so. All of them. Even the "AI" ones. They don't infer. They are told, they try to find a marker within that data which is semi-reliable, and then then guess. They have no idea WHY they have to brake, they don't know why the road is suddenly all shiny and rainbow-coloured and why that means you should probably slow and make no sudden lane changes or steering at that point. They can't infer it back. They can only react to specific data they've been told to look for.

And you CANNOT tell a computer to look for every possible circumstance, with any accuracy. It's just infeasible.

I put my life in a computer's hands every time I get into a car. ABS. An ECU controlling fuel pumps. Even electronic engine timing can blow up a car if it goes wrong. But they are NEVER required to guess. If the oxygen is below this reading, signal failure. If it's between this and that, then you're at this point in the stroke and you should do X, Y, Z. They never "guess". They can't "infer". They don't know why the oxygen sensor suddenly returns zeroes, they just get told what to do if it ever does. This is why most cars with oxygen sensors just stall if the sensor is faulty. They can't infer that it's faulty and ignore it. They just sit, splutter and stall. Disconnect it, and the engine KNOWS it's not there and slips into "limp home" mode. But you have to know to do that.

And that's the entire problem... current tech can't even stop files being deleted, people breaking into websites, or properly autocomplete an English sentence. And you expect it to be even vaguely safe to interpret what is possible the worst scenario ever for a computer vision system?

Never rely on a computer to infer. They can't. They don't understand the world and thus cannot predict it or even notice when they themselves are failing. You give a computer instructions to do far more rapidly and perfectly than you could ever do. That's what they are for, that's what they are best at, that's what they do. You do not get a computer to ever infer anything, certainly not in any life-threatening scenario. These things can't even write a decent paragraph of English text with years of supercomputing efforts behind them. They have no concept of the data they are acting on. They are just following instructions.

Those sufficiently complicated instructions can work wonders, yes, but they cannot generate any sort of intelligence (nobody has ever proven that and, no, a Turing Test is nothing more than a psychology test for a human, not an intelligence test for a computer), and they cannot infer anything that's not present in the data.

If you can't infer, you can't understand the situation, or adapt properly to it, or deal with any situation which you don't have explicit instructions on how to deal with.

Uber is a great example - that self-driving car that killed the woman with the bike? Within a few seconds it detected her as nothing, a wall, a bike, another vehicle, a pedestrian, and then didn't know what to do about any of them. A human would infer from all those instructions what the situation actually was. The car wasn't trained on it at all, and wouldn't have stopped in time even if the braking hadn't been disabled.

Inference is an inately human / animal skill associated with intelligence. If I bop myself on the head with this stick it hurts me. So that means if I bop THAT monkey on the head...

Inference is a vastly different skill and not present in any computer system that I'm aware of. Not one of them tries to trace back the reasoning for the data being classified as such. They just operate on statistics and heuristics. Don't trust your life, quite literally, to chance and what-some-bloke-wrote-down for every situation.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No way ready!

"They don't understand the world"

This is the crux of it. Way before we ever get into a driving seat, way, even, before we stand up we have gained an understanding of what solid objects are. We come to understand that breaking things isn't good and what actions might break them. We understand what it's like to get hurt - we'll do it to ourselves - and mostly understand that hurting other people is bad. It's understanding that comes from being material objects ourselves interacting with other material objects. Software is not a material object.

kwhitefoot

Re: No way ready!

> it is so far off what would actually be useful.

Have you tried driving one?

> urban stop/start congestion.

this is exactly what traffic aware cruise control and autosteer are good at.

Jtom Bronze badge

Re: No way ready!

I was at an intersection, first in line waiting for a green arrow to turn left (US street. Left means turning in front of traffic going in the opposite direction). The cross streets had had the green light for over two minutes, meaning traffic in my direction, and the opposite direction, had been red for that long.

When I finally got my green arrow, there was a car coming from the opposite direction. All expectation was that he would slow and stop for his red light. But something just didn’t look right. I unreasonably hesitated for perhaps a full second, risking getting honked at by the car behind, before it was obvious; the car was not slowing down. The car blew through the light at fifty-plus miles an hour. I would have likely made the turn unscathed, but if the car behind me just followed me through the light, the most likely scenario, it would have been destroyed.

I have no idea why I suspected the car was going to run the red light. If I have no idea what alerted me to a dangerous situation, how could I, or anyone else, program a car to avoid it?

This brings up other considerations. Once I saw that the cars in front of me were about to hit each other, so I slowed down and changed lanes to avoid becoming part of it. Other times, I’ve anticipated that a nearby vehicle was about to get in a hazardous situation, and I moved over a lane to give him a way out. Are those capabilities going to be programmed into an autopilot? What about the simple courtesy of slowing just a bit so another car can safely merge into your lane ahead of you?

HamsterNet

Re: No way ready!

Let's break this down.

A PC can know there is a school, it's on the map.

Visual sensors (just cameras) can detect the difference between a paper bag, a rock and a child. Way way quicker than your brain can (biological brains are vast parallel processors of unsurpassed efficiency, but they are very slow, its 0.2 seconds for a human to recognise anything and another .5 seconds to respond).

Radar/visual cameras can "see" further than a human, in great clarity and in a much wider range of conditions.

Inferring has been demonstrated in a wide range of tasks by computers.

What's lacking is DATA. This is why Tesla is so far ahead of anybody else in autonomous driving, they are gathering data from millions of driving hours every day to feed back into the models to "teach" the code how to drive. The roll out the new version and see if what they have from the data models works in real life. Rince and repeat.

Just on the data, the current Autopilot is already x2 as safe as a human on a highway., but that's a low bar as Humans are TERRIBLE drivers, all of us, especially those who think they are good drivers.

Fully autonomous needs to be an order of magnitude or two better than a humans in all conditions, once there we will be soon looking at banning us monkies from driving.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: No way ready!

"I unreasonably hesitated for perhaps a full second, risking getting honked at by the car behind, before it was obvious; the car was not slowing down. The car blew through the light at fifty-plus miles an hour. "

What a wonderful anecdote illustrating why we MUST move to require autonomous driving as soon as possible. See what happens when you allow meatsacks to control automobiles? They think they're smart enough to outwit the traffic lights, and then they put others in terrible danger by blowing through red lights against protected left turns.

Giovani Tapini

The obvious and fundamental problem is

That Autopilot, is not an autopilot.

If it was called something else the level of scepticism and the gap between expectation and reality would be substantially narrowed.

Based on the issues described, even if you still have hands on the wheel AKA normal cruise control, it can make unexpected decisions so quickly even a human can struggle to correct it in time.

It is an interesting technology but does not work well when roads and other human drivers are not (and probably cannot in all cases) be optimised for fully automated driving.

Baldrickk Silver badge

Re: The obvious and fundamental problem is

OR, more accurately, that the general population don't understand the capacities of an autopilot and ascribe it abilities beyond what it can actually do.

I've flown a plane exactly once - a red-letter day, I'm no pilot - but I wanted to know everything I could before I went up. The plane had an autopilot - it was two dials, one for desired heading, one for desired altitude. It would attempt to match heading and altitude by adjusting the current by a limited rate, and once reached, hold it.

That's it. That's an autopilot in a nutshell.

Yes, airliners have other systems that are capable of landing the plane etc, but those are additional systems.

Transferring that to the surface domain - an enhanced cruise control is exactly what an autopilot describes.

We have terms for cars that drive themselves - "fully autonomous vehicle", or "self driving car".

"Autopilot" is an apt description of the capabilities of the Tesla. The problem is people thinking that it does more than it does.

I went to a test drive event for the model X - the staff there made it very clear that it was a driving aid, and not autonomous.

I also made sure I got to try it out - lets just say that its immediate insistence on pulling off the side of the dual-carriageway I was on, and that it wanted to accelerate hard beyond the speed limit (signage limited it to 60, the car decided it was in a 70 zone despite a speed limit sign being in clear view) gave me doubts about the quality of the system.

JohnG Silver badge

Re: The obvious and fundamental problem is

"That Autopilot, is not an autopilot."

Actually, it is a fair description. Autopilot in an aircraft will take the aircraft on a specific course, at a specific height. It may have the ability to alter the heading at predetermined waypoints. But autopilot cannot handle potential collisions with other aircraft or other emergencies and will return control to the pilot if it detects a situation it cannot handle. The Tesla autopilot is similar but it does have some capability to avoid collisions with other vehicles.

Jtom Bronze badge

Re: The obvious and fundamental problem is

The danger with this should be obvious. The biggest threat on the road today is the inattentive driver (some might claim drink drivers, but they are inattentive because they are drunk). As these limited autopilot functions are introduced, will it make drivers more, or less, attentive? We all know the answer to that.

I drive cars with manual transmissions. Sometimes, I am of the opinion that we should prohibit newer technology, and require everyone to use a stick shift. It’s hard to be inattentive in traffic when you are constantly working the gas, brake, clutch, steering, and shifter. Also, if you have one hand on the wheel and the other on the shifter, you can’t hold your cellphone.

Conor Turton

Ghost braking for overpasses

It isn't just Teslas that suffer from this. I drive a 44 tonne DAF CF that is fitted with Automatic Emergency Braking System and Adaptive Cruise Control. They're known throughout trucking for braking for no reason at all on a completely empty road as you go under a motorway bridge or overhead sign, day or night. The first truck I drove with these systems was from 2014, I currently drive 2018 ones and they do the same. DAF have altered the software, they've moved the location of the sensors over the last 4 years and they still do it.

It is for this and other things that I'm not worried about my job being automated away by self driving lorries any time before I retire.

Milton Silver badge

Marketurds vs Reality

Yeah I do seem to be giving the 'turds a bit of a bashing lately but I can't be the only person massively sick of BS, lies, exaggerations and outright propaganda, whether from politicians or corporates. It is becoming quite sickening.

A few observations:

* Thanks for some really well-written posts here today

* I am horrified that anyone thinks Agile is acceptable for safety-critical systems. Agile is only ever acceptable when you have a tip-top team and where errors and failures are a tolerable event in the development process. You wouldn't use (fr)Agile to develop airliner software, would you?!

* No one seems to point out that if "AI" were anywhere near as intelligent and capable as corporates and their marketing liars insisted, it would be in cars like Teslas now, and this kind of debate would be redundant. We'd be talking about sensor failures/weaknesses, not about software capability.

For years, when challenged about the supposed intolerant arrogance of my view that 50% of the population are imbeciles, I have always had the irrefutable reply: "Go drive on different roads for the next hour or so, observing, thinking and remembering, then come back and tell me I'm wrong." No takers.

Well, now I can up my snark level. The next time some fathead starts extolling "AI" I can tell him to take an "autopiloted" car and let it drive him through the centre of a big city, circle it on a freeway and come back. Then he can dwell upon the difference between actual intelligence and the "artificial" kind ... if he ever returns, that is.

BebopWeBop Silver badge

Re: Marketurds vs Reality

Then he can dwell upon the difference between actual intelligence and the "artificial" kind ... if he ever returns, that is.

Unfortunately the fathead who took you up on that may well be just as bad when in control of the car :-(

Baldrickk Silver badge

Re: Marketurds vs Reality

Except agile is a development methodology, there is nothing stopping good, safety critical code being developed in an agile manner, as long as the constraints are known up front.

Commswonk Silver badge

Re: Marketurds vs Reality

@ Milton: Thanks for some really well-written posts here today

I'd very much like to second that.

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