Due to a dangerous combination of curiosity and mischievousness, humans like to push things to their limits, or even well past them. This is something that Tesla has had to learn the hard way with its new autonomous driving features, as people seem to really enjoy being reckless and using the features in ways they weren’t meant to be used. Elon Musk understands that Tesla itself is partly to blame for this, which is why his company is making efforts to improve safety and ensure that people can’t abuse the features anymore.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk (indirectly) made a striking admission yesterday: the autonomous driving features his company recently launched are too dangerous. On an earnings call with investors, Musk said that “additional constraints” will be added in response to evidence that people have pushed the feature too far. “There’s been some fairly crazy videos on YouTube,” he said. “This is not good.” It has been well documented that people have both intentionally and accidentally tested the limits of Tesla’s new feature (see “Drivers Push Tesla’s Autopilot Beyond Its Abilities”). But while some individuals have clearly been reckless, Tesla bears some responsibility as well due to the way it has designed and deployed its system, as Musk seems to realize. Musk didn’t mention any specific “constraints” that will be added to make the autonomous driving feature safer. One obvious upgrade would be to require that someone be sitting in the driver’s seat. As this video of a Tesla driving itself with no one at the wheel on a private road shows, the system requires only that the driver’s side seatbelt be clicked in, even though the driver’s seat has an “occupancy sensor.”