Q: I believe there is a bit of misconception about Teslas by both the public and law enforcement. I’m only going to address unmodified Teslas.
Not all Teslas are equipped with the Full Self Driving (FSD) ensemble. Of those so equipped, a small percentage have it initialized as beta testers. Teslas constantly “talk” to the mother ship for learning. What Tesla does have now is an excellent cruise control, lane-keeping and navigation system.
A Tesla will not accelerate on its own unless the cruise control is on and the Tesla is tracking the car in front of it as the lead car accelerates and slows, up to the maximum speed the Tesla operator set. A Tesla will automatically slow for some curves in the road.
Lane keeping keeps the Tesla centered in its lane. There is a warning system in place should the operator remove their hands from the steering wheel. It puts a message on the screen, then flashes blue which increases, followed by a very audible alarm. If all that is ignored, the system disengages and the Tesla slows. The operator can not reengage the system without coming to a complete stop and placing the Tesla in park.
The nav system will ask the operator their intentions and the Tesla will not exit a freeway unless the operator turns on the directional indicator. As soon as the Tesla exits, the nav system releases control. The Tesla will come to a stop at stop signs and stop lights and sends a warning that it is approaching controlled intersections. It requires the operator to touch the accelerator to proceed. The driver must be in control at all times.
There appear to be many ways owners can spoof the Tesla operating system, which means the vehicle is outside of Tesla’s operating parameters.
George Badger, Soquel
A: The problem with vehicles on autopilot can be the driver. Take for example, what happened on the Bay Bridge not long ago, when a driver sat in the backseat and fooled the Tesla into thinking his hands were on the steering wheel but, instead, he was using his feet. He was arrested and the car was impounded. He bought another one and started doing it again, per a report from Mashable and KTVU.
This was stupid. It’s dangerous. And it’s not legal.
The move to driverless vehicles is happening fast, but we’re not there yet. The DMV has approved testing of driverless vehicles in Fremont, Milpitas and other locations.
For now, it’s still two hands on the wheel, the driver in the front seat, able to take control of the vehicle, if necessary.
Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Author: Gary Richards