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Tesla v. NTSB - Opinion

LastGas

Member
Aug 13, 2016
391
403
Virginia
Why is the NTSB trying to embarrass Tesla in public? Here's how I see it.

The NTSB got involved with Tesla when investigating the 2016 traffic death of Joshua Brown. Brown was driving 9 mph over the speed limit on a divided highway in Florida with the old Autopilot Convenience Feature engaged. Brown wasn't watching the road, a truck pulled across the road in front of him, the car didn't stop and Brown was killed. NTSB investigated and ruled that Tesla Autopilot worked as designed. But in the wake of that incident, NTSB sent letters to several automakers asking questions.

Part of NTSB's objection is that Tesla allows Autopilot to be used in situations where they think it isn't designed to be used. The flaw with that view is that Autopilot was designed to be used on the type of road where Brown was killed. It seems that NTSB's position is that any roadway where Autopilot doesn't prevent every accident is one where it shouldn't be allowed to operate; i.e., all Level 2 autonomous driving systems should be disallowed. NTSB is only picking on Tesla because they are a visible target and the main player in the self-driving space.

NTSB has no regulatory authority, so all they can do is try to embarrass Tesla in public to get them to stop selling Autopilot. That sounds extreme, but that's essentially what they are doing since Autopilot is a Level 2 system that will inevitably have accidents when drivers abuse it.

Tesla's response is that in a Level 2 system, it is the driver's responsibility to decide what roads are suitable for self-driving features. (I will note, however, that there are roads Autopilot will not activate on, like ones with no lines, and Autopilot restricts speed significantly on undivided highways. Smart Summon only works on private roads.)

Some automakers like GM define "compatible roads" and their "Super Cruise" won't drive anywhere else. I suppose NTSB likes the fact that those cars won't drive on 95% of the paved roads in the US. That's a lot less Level 2 autonomy on the road.
 

diplomat33

Average guy who loves autonomous vehicles
Aug 3, 2017
8,756
12,443
Terre Haute, IN USA
Some automakers like GM define "compatible roads" and their "Super Cruise" won't drive anywhere else. I suppose NTSB likes the fact that those cars won't drive on 95% of the paved roads in the US. That's a lot less Level 2 autonomy on the road.

No. Super Cruise is still L2. L2 is simply any driving system that can do some lateral and longitudinal control but cannot handle the entire OEDR. L2 is not about what roads it can be used on. So, Super Cruise is still L2 even if it can only used on limited roads.
 

Terminator857

Member
Aug 5, 2019
829
997
Ca
NTSB is responsible for safety, not comfort or anything else. NTSB has seen obvious ways to improve safety over the years and to some degree they are correct. This is their job, this is what they get paid to do by the government. They have made recommendations which have been ignored and would likely have saved lives. For example they recommended more active driver monitoring systems in 2017.
Quote:
The other five manufacturers responded to us, describing the actions they planned to take, or were taking, to better monitor a driver’s level of engagement, Tesla is the only manufacturer that did not officially respond to us about the recommendation.”

Quote:
“In this crash we saw an overreliance on technology, we saw distraction, we saw a lack of policy prohibiting cell phone use while driving, ... The lessons learned from this investigation are as much about people as they are about the limitations of emerging technologies,” said Sumwalt. “Crashes like this one, and thousands more that happen every year due to distraction, are why “Eliminate Distractions” remains on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements,” he said.
 
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ATPMSD

Member
Mar 12, 2021
588
549
Atlanta, GA
Tesla is their own worst enemy here. They have for years used the term “Full Self-Driving” when the car is clearly not capable of any such thing. As I see it, the NTSB is calling out Tesla on this. If Tesla were honest and upfront about what they have instead of playing a marketing game this whole issue would not exist.
 
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PDX-Y

Member
May 24, 2021
247
310
Portland, OR
If Tesla were honest and upfront about what they have instead of playing a marketing game this whole issue would not exist.
I think the truth is exactly the opposite, honestly. People who argue about the name of the product are doing so almost exclusively as a proxy argument against the safety of the product. If they didn't have access to this argument (which is admittedly an easy shot to take), they'd be limited to one of the other angles you tend to see. But they'd be arguing in the same direction and for the same purposes regardless.

People yell about FSD because it works, not because it doesn't. If it was actually a bad product that failed in the market people would be laughing about it, not shrieking against it in protest. But customers buy it and use it, and it's getting better, and that makes people angry (some because they didn't buy a car with it, some because they hate Musk's affect, some because they have a vested interest in Tesla's competitors, etc...).
 
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ATPMSD

Member
Mar 12, 2021
588
549
Atlanta, GA
@TresLA Respectfully disagree. L2 is along way from FULL Self-Driving so I maintain this is a self-inflected wound.

FSD because it works

It works only under very limited conditions. The defenders of FSD are Tesla owners who are, for the most part, early adopters. Early adopters by nature are willing to tolerate a lot of shortcomings and tend to promote products they support in the hopes the vision will be realized.

I love my car, but I was promised FSD and what was delivered is really EAP. I am waiting for anything close to FSD, and true L5 is likely years away, IHMO.
 
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PDX-Y

Member
May 24, 2021
247
310
Portland, OR
It works only under very limited conditions.
People buy it. People use it. That's what "works" means in the sense I used it. What you're engaging in isn't an economic discussion about whether the product has value but a semantic argument about whether it does what it "says" it does, or whether or not it "should" do something that it doesn't. But what it does is good, and the proof is that people want it and pay for it.

And the fact that Tesla has a good product that other manufacturers don't is what's driving this, not semantics.
 

LastGas

Member
Aug 13, 2016
391
403
Virginia
The other five manufacturers responded to us, describing the actions they planned to take, or were taking, to better monitor a driver’s level of engagement, Tesla is the only manufacturer that did not officially respond to us about the recommendation.”


But in fact, Tesla added hands on the wheel sensing almost immediately after the 2016 crash.

The NTSB saying that Tesla didn't respond is literally true, but leaving the impression they did nothing is fundamentally misleading.
 
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TresLA

Member
Jul 15, 2018
277
310
L.A.
@TresLA Respectfully disagree. L2 is along way from FULL Self-Driving so I maintain this is a self-inflected wound.



It works only under very limited conditions. The defenders of FSD are Tesla owners who are, for the most part, early adopters. Early adopters by nature are willing to tolerate a lot of shortcomings and tend to promote products they support in the hopes the vision will be realized.

I love my car, but I was promised FSD and what was delivered is really EAP. I am waiting for anything close to FSD, and true L5 is likely years away, IHMO.
I agree L2 can be a long way from Full Self Driving (although I can see how an AV company may approach L5 by perfecting at L2 and skipping L3 & L4 for legal/regulatory reasons). I've always expressed my doubts of L5 FSD coming anytime soon. Predicting the future for something that doesn't yet exist is hard. Just look at world politics, tech innovations, etc. and the Hollywood movies and shows that tried.

What we disagree on is expectations set. Some of us think Tesla is clear enough, while others don't (or just hear the loud voices of those that don't). It's been commented before in other threads, but this FSD beta isn't what was promised. Tesla didn't promise this, nor can you even get FSD beta just because you purchase what's called "FSD capability" on the ordering/purchase page. Tesla even clearly calls what we have is "limited early access Beta" (pretty close to exactly what you said was delivered).
 
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