Elon Musk: Tesla Autopilot Needs ‘Additional Constraints’ Due to ‘Crazy’ Drivers

The constraints will help "minimize the possibility of people doing crazy things."

Thanks to “some fairly crazy videos” on YouTube of drivers doing dumb things when their Tesla Model S sedans were in Autopilot mode, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says more constraints are going to be added to activate the semi-self-driving technology.

The idea is to “minimize the possibility of people doing crazy things.” Musk and company have insisted Autopilot is not a self-driving system and that drivers should always keep their hands on the wheels. However, some drivers haven’t been able to resist the temptation of removing their hands from the wheels, and that has led to some crazy videos of Autopilot making some wrong decisions.

“This is not good,” Musk says of the YouTube videos. “We will be putting some additional constraints on when Autopilot can be activated to minimize the possibility of people doing crazy things.”

Musk didn’t detail what the additional constraints would be, but as Ars Technica points out, most semi-self-driving features will disengage if you remove your hands from the wheel.

Autopilot, which was released in beta mode, has prevented accidents from happening, and Musk says the early data is very positive. There are 40,000 Teslas with Autopilot that log about a million miles per day. Musk didn’t specify whether or not all of those miles are Autopilot-driven miles.

“It was described as a beta release,” Musk says. “The system will learn over time and get better and that’s exactly what it’s doing. It will start to feel quite refined within a couple of months.”

For the Tesla owners who were not part of Autopilot’s beta test or didn’t add the $2,500 Autopilot package when purchasing a Model S, Musk says in the coming months you’ll be able to do an “in-app purchase” to enable Autopilot features.

“All cars will be fully autonomous in the long term,” Musk reiterates. “I think it will be quite unusual to see new cars that don’t have full autonomy in the 15-to-20-year time frame. For Tesla it will be a lot sooner than that. Any cars that are being made that don’t have autonomy will have negative value.”

We’ve shared some of the videos Musk is referring to, but here’s the latest example. German radio host Wolfgang Leikermoser decided to shave and eat while driving a Tesla Model S. And, wouldn’t you know it, he takes his hands off the wheel while Autopilot is engaged.

Why do humans ruin everything?

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe: scrowe@ehpub.com  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.


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