DTNS 2949 – FB doesn’t want you to RT

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comThe US NHTSA finds Tesla does not need to recall it’s Autopilot driver assistance system. Should it have? Plus Facebook censorship accusations fly from all sides.


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4 thoughts on “DTNS 2949 – FB doesn’t want you to RT

  1. It was surprising to me that statistics were available for the number of crashes involving cars without versus with Tesla drive-assist.
    I didn’t think enough cars with activated Tesla drive-assist are on the road for good statistics.

    But there it is: per million miles traveled 40% less crashes. That’s remarkable.

    As we know: many big companies are working on autonomous driving technology. Tesla is the only one that is making their developmental versions available to their customers.

    Whereas the others, such as Google, pay drivers to drive around the fleet of developmental models, with Tesla the customers pay money to Tesla for the privilege of supplying Tesla with the vast amount of data that is needed for the deep learning process.

    I think the following comparison is appropriate:
    Autonomous cars and ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)

    The ABS system of a car must be as reliable as the brake system itself. It’s unthinkable to equip a car with a developmental version of ABS that may not kick in some of the time. As we know, before cars had ABS it was dangerous to just slam on the brakes; if the wheels lock up the car may skid off the road. With ABS you _can_ slam on the brakes if you need to avoid a collision.

    It would have been absurd if a manufacturer would have equipped a car with a developmental ABS, stating in the manual: “WARNING: stay prepared to ease off the brake pedal should you notice the wheels locking up.”

  2. As of August of last year 90,000 Teslas had driven 140 million miles with autopilot enabled. https://www.wired.com/2016/08/how-tesla-autopilot-works/

    The ABS comparison is an interesting one. I do think it’s reasonable for a company to say, we have a system that will prevent you from hitting the car in front of you and keep you in your lane, but it is not a substitute for having your hands on the wheel and paying attention since we don’t promise the system will actually drive for you. To me this is no different than existing driver assist functions that provide collision alert and lane guidance. It’s just better versions of both.

    What I do have an issue with is calling it autopilot.

    A comparison that comes to mind would be to call ABS Automatic Braking System instead of anti-lock. And then have to keep reminding people that ABS doesn’t brake for you, you still have to put your foot on the pedal. It just helps stop you from causing the brakes to lock up.

  3. Hi Tom,

    Yeah, for sure the name ‘autopilot’ is wrong.
    (Incidentally, I think the comparison you offered is ill fitting: it’s so bizarre that it has no meaning.)


    It’s uncharacteristic for Tesla to be disingenious, but there it is. It seems to me that in this case Elon Musk’s drive to market the Tesla technology has gotten the better of him.

    In aviation autopilot keeps the aircraft within the corridor of its filed flightplan. Autopilot is not involved in collision avoidance, there’s a separate system for that: TCAS.
    (Well… some googling showed me that some manufactures are moving towards feeding the TCAS resolution advisory directly into the autopilot.)

    Takeoff and landing are demanding tasks, but it makes sense to automate cruising flight as its margins of error are very, very large; plenty of room in the sky.

    By contrast, in freeway driving the margins of error are very, very small (arguably smaller even than for urban driving).

    I seems to me the most honest name would have been ‘Autonomous Driving Development’.
    The current Tesla drive-assist technology is a transitional form. Its primary purpose is data gathering, building up the deep learning depth that it takes to achieve full autonomy.
    Contrary to what I expected Tesla customers do benefit from the current abilities of Tesla drive assist (so the statistics indicate), but that is not its primary purpose.

    (And I guess we’ll never know what Tesla would have done if the statistics had shown that autopilot users have more accidents per million miles traveled.)

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