You may have heard about accidents that occurred while using Tesla’s autopilot feature. They are often caused by negligence and ignorance, rather than the Model S cars. Many people don’t realize that autopilot does not mean autonomous, therefore they just sit back (or send text messages) and learn how it works — the hard way.
Tesla has now updated their software to Version 8, which aims to reduce the likelihood of false alarms in their radar system, even without using the camera to confirm visual image recognition. Radar systems may blow the size of certain items out of proportion (for example, reflective disk-shaped objects), which might prompt collision avoidance systems to suddenly brake unnecessarily for small items like soda cans.
The Tesla blog said:
‘any metal surface with a dish shape is not only reflective, but also amplifies the reflected signal to many times its actual size. A discarded soda can on the road, with its concave bottom facing towards you can appear to be a large and dangerous obstacle, but you would definitely not want to slam on the brakes to avoid it.’
Should Tesla have skipped the release of the transitionary autopilot system and focused on fully autonomous vehicles instead? Or is the autopilot safety issue just a speed bump on the way to a better future?
If you want my opinion, I think it’s just a speed bump on the way to an autonomously driven future in which people of all ages can get around easily, regardless of their health.