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financial media games with TSLA aside, constructive feedback on Autopilot

Discussion in 'TSLA Investor Discussions' started by SteveG3, Jul 14, 2016.

  1. SteveG3

    SteveG3 Active Member

    Sep 21, 2012
    #1 SteveG3, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
    we've all seen the flood of stories in the financial media about Tesla Autopilot. so much of the coverage is misleading, aggressive and speculative in nature. as investors, that mass of noise can seem like an outrageous attack. let's not let this media swirl about the company we're invested in blind us to fair and important feedback that can save lives.

    here are a couple of observations I had today on what I see as legitimate issues for Tesla to look at,

    in Consumer Reports coverage today they criticized the use of the name autopilot (as others have in the past few weeks). up until this morning such criticism always irritated me. from day one, Elon Musk was very clear that he choose the name "autopilot" because it is common knowledge that the commercial planes we fly always have a human being in command of the cockpit whether autopilot is activated or not.

    now I think Tesla does have something it can learn here. I still think "autopilot" was a very good name for this driving assistance tool. almost everyone knows pilots remain responsible while "autopilot" is in use on an aircraft. what's become apparent now, is the huge difference between the screening process and training necessary to be licensed to pilot an aircraft vs. a car. the assumption that the general public will be as attentive as a pilot for Delta or United to the fact that "autopilot" is an assist tool and not a replacement for a driver in command is almost certainly a false assumption. I've never heard of a YouTube video of a Delta pilot laughing about how no one is in the cockpit, but we've seen this sort of thing with people driving there Teslas. it's obviously a very small percent of Tesla owners who would so blatantly and purposely run rough shod over the requirement of a human in charge, but a much larger number of us can be lulled into increasing passive confidence that the car has things under control.

    second observation,

    the accident in Florida highlights two extremely rare limitations of the system that consumers could easily have falsely assumed they were protected from. first, despite the highest crash test scores of any vehicle, there are some outlier circumstances that find a weak spot in Tesla's otherwise tank like protection of the driver. as safe as Tesla's are, they are not a guarantee of surviving an accident. second, Tesla's autopilot is known to give off a strong alert if the system detects a situation over which the driver needs to take control. what's not so clear is that there are situations where the system is unable to detect that it is facing a situation it cannot handle. while this is extremely rare on a divided highway, people operating autopilot need to know that it's possible a situation needing there attention can occur without the car alerting them to it. of course, Tesla has already told consumers that they need to be alert at all times. however, Tesla could be explicit that it might be necessary for the driver to notice autopilot is in over its head rather than assume the system will tell you so itself (to be fair to Tesla, I think their restriction to divided highways was designed to cover this issue without dramatically under representing AP's usefulness, but obviously, we now have an example of where this restriction was not enough).

    last observation,

    "beta" system. I think a mea culpa seems in order with this one. I give Tesla the benefit of the doubt that to them "beta" has always meant the reasonable definition they shared in the past week, and how do we ever get to a billion miles without the cars being in use. however, it was not the best choice to use this word "beta" without being explicit about their definition at the time they first used the term. from the first time I heard Tesla use that word, it sounded off too me.

    didn't mean this to be such a long post... curious to hear what you all think.
  2. 3Victoria

    3Victoria Active Member

    May 8, 2016
    Victoria, British Columbia
    • Like x 1
  3. SteveG3

    SteveG3 Active Member

    Sep 21, 2012
    very good read. while the headlines by other media outlets are comical, ie, "Consumer Reports To Tesla: Disable 'Unproven" Autopilot, I think it's there a worthwhile debate as to whether Tesla should change the frequency of prompts to see that the driver is paying attention and the progression of consequences of not responding to prompts. my initial take is that I don't agree with CR that the system should be disabled until such changes are considered.
  4. Drivin

    Drivin Member

    Feb 7, 2016
    #4 Drivin, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
    On a commercial flight a pilot using autopilot is not able to get up from his seat at all and have his hands off the controls?
    (Tesla states you need to have your hands on the steering wheel)
    I didn't know that was common knowledge.

    It is like saying the car has "self-inflating-tires" - and then in the manual say "just kidding, it doesn't actually inflate the tires, but it will do some aspects of tire inflation under certain conditions, your results may vary".

    Words have meanings.

    As for releasing a car in "beta", it is one aspect to say that the drivers agreed to be "beta" testers, but there is no indication that the drivers are capable of being beta testers (vs. a trained employee who may test the car on the road under controlled conditions) and given that, more importantly, that all the other drivers and pedestrians on the road didn't signed up for being part of the beta test.
  5. X Yes?

    X Yes? Member

    May 5, 2016
    San Diego
    The biggest challenge will likely be selling a revised Autopilot. If the requirement is hands on the wheel at all times, many people will not buy it and many existing customers are going to be unhappy.
  6. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Distributed Energy Enthusiast

    Oct 20, 2012
    Philadelphia, PA
    Do we have report of a single malfunction yet? I haven't heard one. Until then I don't see why they'd having trouble selling something working precisely as advertised.

    I never really gave much though to the name Autopilot(beta) until this incident. I did realize right away that people would abuse the hell out of it and create dangerous situations. "Beta" doesn't really apply here, it's more like a feature-limited scaled-down version of autopilot and should probably be rebranded something more appropriate. Enhanced cruise control?

    Meanwhile, I believe Nissan released their version of semi-autonomous assist today.
  7. N5329K

    N5329K Member

    Aug 12, 2009
    #7 N5329K, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
    As a (private, instrument-rated) pilot, I use the a/p to fly the airplane while I manage other jobs: systems health, fuel, aircraft performance, navigation and communication. At no point do I climb into the back seat for a nap. Or watch a video. I have handed over some of the duties, not all of them, knowing that my intervention might be needed at any moment, from inadvertent a/p disconnect, to something more serious. So calm watchfulness is the order of the day because there is still just one pilot in command, and his name isn't George.
    Driving has narrower margins. If I drift off course half a dot in an airplane, that's a matter of personal pride to recenter it. Nobody else is going to care. If the a/p executes a turn a little late (and it almost never does) then I correct on the far side of the fix. Let it go too long and ATC will ask, "Where ya headed?" Embarrassing, but not fatal.
    But if I drift out of my lane in a car I take out a guardrail and Fortune writes a hit piece. If my car fails to execute a stop in time, I hit a tractor trailer and die.
    It seems to me the Tesla's Autopilot is a clever name, in the same way that Cessna used to advertise its tricycle-gear airplanes as having "Land-O-Matic", meaning "this is way easier to land than a taildragger." But it's a serious- and maybe fatal- mistake to take either name at full face value. No sensible pilot would assume a Land-O-Matic Cessna can land itself. But put an advanced, highly-capable Autopilot (way more capable than most any aircraft autopilot, included those in heavy iron) in the hands of barely-trained drivers and you're going to bend metal and spill blood.
  8. GoTslaGo

    GoTslaGo Learning Member

    Dec 25, 2015
    What I would like to see is a tutorial/video. Here's what I would like to see with it:

    1) The mechanics of how to use (obviously). How to activate TACC (adjust car distance), AutoSteer, AutoLaneChange, AutoPark, etc...
    2) Where and when is it recommended to use. And NOT recommended to use.
    3) What can it typically see (show icons on dash). What are it's blind-spots and limitations.

    The above are in the manual I know...Below are things that I think would be useful to know.

    4) Examples of potential AP failures, with specific warnings and how those warnings work or sound.
    5) Ways you can customize AP, if you can (eg--some have posted that setting the steering on "comfort" improves AP turns, is this real or just confirmation bias--it seems to work for me; or even using rainbow road if you have difficulty seeing the blue/grey transition).
    6) Maybe an "advice" section on how to start using AP and learning how to develop one's own comfort level with it (eg, start with longest car setting, try on empty road, etc... yes much of it is pretty much common sense, but....).

    In the future, as new software updates modify AP, include a brief description of the changes and offer a link to review a new tutorial showing the changes if needed (if it's just a small tweak likely not needed). Early on the release notes with AP changes were really good and detailed, with diagrams and details. I suspect the later updates have been more tweaks.

    Possibly even a simulator....

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