Is Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Autopilot A Potential Disaster?
Questions have been raised about Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s semi-autonomous driving functionality Autopilot. The feature has already been activated in over 35,000 Tesla models. Autopilot is expected to come preinstalled in the mainstream Model 3, whose preorders were recently approaching 400,000. To increase the adoption of Autopilot, Tesla is driving drivers of Model S and Model X an opportunity to try the feature out free of charge for a month.
However, some experts claim that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Autopilot could be endangering the lives of drivers. It is not just Autopilot alone, but the experts argue that semi-autonomous driving features are a recipe for safety danger.
In the case of Tesla, drivers can leave Autopilot to take control of the car and Tesla insists that should only happen under recommendation conditions. While Autopilot has been proven capable of taking full control of the car on the road, Tesla still calls for drivers to be alert and never take their hands off the steering wheel.
Drivers becoming less attentive
However, as the company pushes out more updates to bolster the autonomous capability of Autopilot, drivers are tempted to push the limits of the feature by leaving more of the car controls to the software. But that is where the danger lurks. According to Don Norman of University of California’s Design Lab, the more reliable Tesla’s Autopilot becomes, the more drivers will be lax, thus less likely to respond when there is a need for a corrective action. It is a case of the attention wondering when there is little to do and that’s a problem.
Safety issues with Autopilot
The issue of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Autopilot causing drivers to be less attentive on the road comes when issues have recently arisen about the software’s blind spots. For example, Tesla only recently fixed automatic parking, summon and highway passing controls loopholes in the software after drivers reported the problems.
Risk for autonomous driving developers
There is risk that if Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Autopilot one day fails and causes a serious crash, it could dramatically change the dynamics for developers of autonomous driving features. Regulations could tight and bringing autonomous cars on the roads could take longer than expected. Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is aggressively working toward fully autonomous driving and Tesla is also heading there as it keeps improving Autopilot.
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