Tesla Motors recently started offering an Autopilot software upgrade to their new Model S electric sedan’s and all Model X SUVs that includes access to self-driving options, namely Autosteer, Auto Lane Change and Autopark. The semi-autonomous system uses a mixture of radar, cameras, GPS and ultrasonic sensors designed to keep the car in its lane, maintain an appropriately safe following distance and change lanes when the driver wants to.
Although Tesla CEO Elon Musk indicated that these features don’t make the vehicles fully autonomous, this hasn’t stopped some drivers from pretending they are.
In videos released on YouTube after the software upgrade, drivers show how their Model S cars can act unpredictably with the Autosteer function engaged. In one of the videos, the vehicle appears to jerk to the right as the driver turns off a highway, while in the other, the car Autosteers into oncoming traffic on the left, pulling the wheel just after another car passes in the other direction. (You can check out the videos below.)
Like any new technology, there are going to be kinks and bugs to work out, which is why the company has stressed that the new self-driving functions are beta features and have said that humans should keep their hands on the wheel even when engaging Autosteer. This would make sense as humans are still responsible for any accident — and their own lives.
It seems irresponsible that drivers would be so trusting to a new and unproven technology, but if they can afford the $70,000 for a base Model S, maybe they can afford the lawsuits, medical bills and cost of a new car after an accident.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you think the drivers in the videos are trying to make a point about the safety of the system or simply careless? Was Tesla smart to release the software? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below.