Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×
AI Software Transportation Upgrades

Software Update Adds Autonomous Driving To Tesla's Bag of Tricks (nytimes.com) 242

An anonymous reader writes with the news that Tesla owners today found their cars had been upgraded with the company's new autopilot feature: "That means the next time you see a Model S cruising next to you on the interstate, look closely: It may be driving itself." Adds the submitter: Well, I guess some of you will be celebrating this; but this submitters' fear, is that if this technology becomes pervasive, the skill of operating a vehicle will be lost, as is any skill that isn't practiced regularly. It is unlikely that 'self-driving cars' will reach a point where they can handle 100% of all driving circumstances without human intervention, emergency circumstances being the first and foremost example of what an automated system could not adequately handle unaided; what will we do then, when injuries that could have been avoided or when lives are lost because people aren't competent to operate a vehicle any longer?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Software Update Adds Autonomous Driving To Tesla's Bag of Tricks

Comments Filter:
  • $2,500 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @05:45PM (#50739211) Homepage Journal

    It costs $2,500 to unlock this new software feature.

    • Re:$2,500 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @05:52PM (#50739283)

      I haven't heard anything about that, but what I have heard is that this is basically just adaptive cruise with lane assist on steroids. Likewise, the "omg we're losing our skillz" concern in the summary will have to wait until Google's vision comes true.

      • by gatfirls ( 1315141 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @06:33PM (#50739609)

        I can't speak for everyone but I have these type features in my car (adaptive cruise, lane assist, proximity warnings, blind spot detection, etc) and I can say without a doubt for me it surely hasn't made me a better driver. I get into my other car without all of that and find myself making noob driving mistakes (not checking blind spots, not keeping consistent speed, much longer parallel parking, etc). It's actually kind of unnerving at how fast I came to rely on the car to do these tasks for me.

        I haven't seen any studies so maybe I'm just a goof but I consciously try not to rely on those things because I don't want to forget how to actually drive.

        • by jader3rd ( 2222716 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @07:50PM (#50740071)

          I can say without a doubt for me it surely hasn't made me a better driver.

          The point of the features isn't to make you a better driver, they're to decrease the chances of you becoming a corpse.

        • "It's actually kind of unnerving at how fast I came to rely on the car to do these tasks for me."

          That's more or less what I thought when reading "if this technology becomes pervasive, the skill of operating a vehicle will be lost" as it weren't already true: how many Americans have lost the ability to drive (or never got it) a manual transmision car? What do you think it happens when a 99% highway driver enters a two directions road?

        • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

          I can't speak for everyone but I have these type features in my car (adaptive cruise, lane assist, proximity warnings, blind spot detection, etc) and I can say without a doubt for me it surely hasn't made me a better driver. I get into my other car without all of that and find myself making noob driving mistakes (not checking blind spots, not keeping consistent speed, much longer parallel parking, etc). It's actually kind of unnerving at how fast I came to rely on the car to do these tasks for me.

          I haven't seen any studies so maybe I'm just a goof but I consciously try not to rely on those things because I don't want to forget how to actually drive.

          Maybe the cars with these advanced sensors need to condition their drivers to prevent this loss of awareness.

          Every time your car catches you doing something wrong, it should not only alert you, but also electrically shock you!

      • Re:$2,500 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday October 16, 2015 @01:54AM (#50741495)

        Likewise, the "omg we're losing our skillz" concern in the summary will have to wait

        It is already happening. There are some people that no longer know how to shoe a horse.

    • by ebob ( 220513 )
      Yes, but owners who purchased the autopilot capability when they bought the car (probably most who bought in the last year) don't need to pay anything more to get this feature. I've just been driving around in mine learning how to use it. It's pretty awesome.
    • (posting to undo moderation)

      Got a citation for that? The only mention of a fee I could find was from a Car and Driver blog post

      http://blog.caranddriver.com/elon-take-the-wheel-we-test-teslas-new-autopilot-feature/

      Tesla charges a one-time fee of $2500 to activate the Autopilot capability, but the Side Collision Warning is free.

      I would have thought there'd be some communication from Tesla if they were selling an OTA update?

    • Re:$2,500 (Score:5, Informative)

      by steve_ellis ( 586756 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @06:55PM (#50739731) Homepage

      It costs $2,500 to unlock this new software feature.

      That is not (entirely) accurate. The autopilot feature is currently on the price list as a $2500 option. I'm under the impression that all current cars _may_ have the right sensors (they are generally helpful in getting good collision avoidance ratings--I'm not sure but I assume if you have the hardware and you did _not_ pay for autopilot when it was available as an option, then you may be able to pay now to enable the feature).

      However, my car, built in late September, 2014, was not priced under the current pricing model--there was no autopilot option at that time, yet my car (like most cars built in late September, 2014) has all the sensors and autopilot is fully enabled on my vehicle as of the software update I installed this morning. I did pay for other options that are no longer available (as I recall, parking sensors and fog lights), but I did not have to pay $2500 to enable autopilot. -se

      • The autopilot was always in there. For when he decides 'it's time'...

        It's actually much easier to program an autokilling autopilot than a safe one.

    • Re:$2,500 (Score:5, Informative)

      by olddoc ( 152678 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @09:28PM (#50740591)
      You had to buy the car initially with the optional "tech package" for $2,500. I did and now I have autosteer and autopark in addition to adaptive cruise control.
  • by Veldcath ( 591080 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @05:51PM (#50739259) Homepage
    One might argue that many drivers on the roads today already aren't particularly proficient at controlling their vehicles. While it might be that some persons skills would grow worse with disuse, I think there are a goodly number of individuals out there who would be safer 'drivers' if they weren't in direct control over their cars themselves. And I don't mean just those who have poor eyesight or slow reflexes.
    • by khasim ( 1285 )

      Not only that, but:

      It is unlikely that 'self-driving cars' will reach a point where they can handle 100% of all driving circumstances without human intervention, emergency circumstances being the first and foremost example of what an automated system could not adequately handle unaided; what will we do then, when injuries that could have been avoided or when lives are lost because people aren't competent to operate a vehicle any longer?

      That is a SINGLE sentence.

      How about if the autonomous car just stopped i

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        Not all cars driven by humans can handle 100% of all driving circumstances, and that's with a human 'intervening' the entire time.

        I predict that rural highway driving will be the first place that autos can operate autonomously. It may be only limited-access highways (freeways with no intersections, no lights, no at-grade crossings) but could probably work on traditional federal highways. Cities and rural undeveloped or underdeveloped roads will have to come later.

        I'm not all that worried about atrop
        • Also I see autonomous vehicles being staged in their deployment. Self-driving vehicles are a traffic and transport engineers wet dream, they will dramatically increase traffic flows on existing roads. So there will be a significant incentive to municipalities to get sections of their roads "AI" ready.

          My prediction is that trunk roads will be the first ones to go autonomous with councils actively contributing to the mapping of the roads. Essentially you will get into your car, drive yourself through the ba

          • So there will be a significant incentive to municipalities to get sections of their roads "AI" ready.

            There will, however, be just as little money to do that as there is to maintain them currently. The cost of getting roads "AI ready" will fall, in any case, on the taxpayer, the vast majority of whom will not be able to afford to own an AV.

            Initially you will be mixed in with human driven cars, but then over time priority lanes and pathing will be given to the self driving cars

            And the money for creating new lanes just for the few who own AV will come from the general taxpayer, too.

            once self driving cars hit critical mass the trunk roads will be self drive only.

            It will never happen. There will be too many taxpayers who don't own the cars who have just as much right to use the main roads as anyone else. Forcing those peop

            • Well where I live they are always building new roads and tunnels to keep traffic moving. So there is a budget there. And they also seem quite keen on making lanes transit lanes where you have to have a minimum of 2 or 3 people in the car to use them. They don't build extra lanes to do this. They re-purpose existing lanes. And mapping a road way in high resolution is significantly cheaper than digging a big ass tunnel.

              And you are right, the funding will come from the general tax payer. The same tax pay

      • I get that _you_ may feel safer if something else does things for you but lets be realistic about the numbers and risk. Fear mongering is not how you go about advocating change, but that is what you are attempting to do. The appeal to emotion is way too obvious.

        To start, we are moving the numbers to more recent 2013, in which you had a .0088% chance of a fatal car crash.

        By comparison, you had a .17% chance of dying do to heart disease, a .02% chance of dying from diabetes. You had a higher chance of deat

      • How about if the autonomous car just stopped itself as quickly as possible in the case of an incident that it cannot handle?

        What could possibly go wrong?

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @06:12PM (#50739423)

      Computers:

      * See and process information from all directions at once
      * React in a millisecond to changing conditions
      * Never get bored, tired, or distracted
      * Don't drive recklessly for thrills

      The notion that humans will actually react better than an automated system in an emergency seems backwards to me. I expect a computer to react much more competently and predictably, if for no other reason than the computer can analyze and react a thousand times faster. It's humans that are *causing* most of the emergencies in the first place by needlessly driving into each other at high speeds.

      • The notion that humans will actually react better than an automated system in an emergency seems backwards to me.

        I was thinking that cars might struggle at first with strange scenarios, not ones where it needs to react swiftly. Something like if a police officer is directing your vehicle around an accident at a five way intersection, in a construction zone during a rainstorm at dawn, or some such thing.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        * Never get bored, tired, or distracted

        I'd add to that list:
        * Never drive preoccupied or in emotional imbalance
        * Never drive intoxicated or on drugs

        Let's face it, we don't leave the rest of our lives behind when we get behind the wheel. If things are troubling or exciting at home or at work or in your love life or with your friends or relatives the mind is churning on it. And while I don't know many who will blatantly drive drunk, I think quite a few have pushed it with hangovers and such. It certainly doesn't take much to drive better than huma

        • * Never get bored, tired, or distracted

          I'd add to that list: * Never drive preoccupied or in emotional imbalance * Never drive intoxicated or on drugs

          When I have sex, there is a chance I could get a disease, or a stalker girlfriend, but regardless of risk, there are some pleasures in life I'll never outsource to a machine. Driving is similar and I'm sure I'm not the only one with this opinion.

    • Risk v. Reward (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AF_Cheddar_Head ( 1186601 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @06:13PM (#50739439)

      Sure humans might lose some of their proficiency at controlling a vehicle but the self-driving car would make those skills less necessary.

      Which would have fewer fatal accidents: automated vehicles with a human with poor skills or a standard car with normal everyday drivers?

      I am betting the automated car wins. Sure the automated car may have some accidents that the human might avoid but I'm betting the total goes down.

      Now I don't want an automated vehicle but that is because I really enjoy driving but the accident thing is IMO a red herring.

      • Sure the automated car may have some accidents that the human might avoid but I'm betting the total goes down.

        Just like letting your brother have sex with that girl you met in the bar reduces your risk of getting diseases.
        Some risks are worth taking.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 15, 2015 @05:54PM (#50739291)

    People barely have any skill at that *now*.

  • We already have incompetent people killing others in mundane situations due to carelessness and incompetence

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @06:00PM (#50739327) Journal
    I told them when GM introduced its new fangled hydramatic transmission, it is going degrade the driver's skill, soon no one would know how to declutch and shift. And I was proven right. I was just bragging about my prediction coming true the other day and my grandpa chimed in. "Son, the slippery slope goes way back. I never liked them self starter anyways ... Nothing like cranking up the old tin lizzy with a cranking rod to fully wake up in the morning" he went.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      My kingdom for mod points.

    • Moderators, you have been whooshed. This is funny, not insightful.

    • When Ford introduced the Model T it is going to degrade the riding ability of the average person. No longer will someone know how to saddle a horse and hitch it to a buggy.

    • I told them when GM introduced its new fangled hydramatic transmission...

      Considering that the hydramatic transmission was introduced in 1939 [wikipedia.org], and you supposedly remember the good old days before the hydramatic was on the market -- how old are you?

      I would have expected a much lower user ID.

      For that matter, if you were just talking to your grandpa "the other day", how old is he? He must be pushing 130 years old, at a minimum. You'd better call the Guinness World Records folks before it's too late.

    • Nothing like cranking up the old tin lizzy with a cranking rod to fully wake up in the morning

      I think grandpa was talking about one of the early sex robots.

    • That is only a problem in the US. Manual's are still preferred in most of the rest of the world.

      • "That is only a problem in the US. Manual's are still preferred in most of the rest of the world."

        Not for much longer. See the trend on luxury cars? the don't even give you the manual option anymore. It won't take longer for that to percolate down mass vehicles.

  • Honestly, I don't see many that HAVE it...

  • Tesla owners today found that their cars had been upgraded with the company's new autopilot feature

    Can it be programmed to find a charging station and plug itself in all by itself when its battery get low, like a Roomba? And, while they're at it, can it be programmed to vacuum my carpets or mow my lawn?

  • I've always wondered how self driving cars would handle rural areas. In particular rural mountain areas with a foot of snow on the road. In a lot of rural areas there may be a distance of hundreds or thousands of meters between the GPS position of a house and the actual house. I can just envision walking a mile uphill in a foot snow while your car sits at the bottom of your driveway with a blinking, "NO ROAD" error. I just don't see how that problem can be overcome to the point where all vehicles could

    • by mh1997 ( 1065630 )
      I live in a very rural area where houses and intersections were at least 1000 feet off from my GPS. My house showed up over a mile from the road and the the road was labeled with the wrong name. Then one day about 4 or 5 years ago everything was accurate. Super accurate as a matter of fact. I looked at the little man icon on the map, clicked it and noticed that a Google Street View car, or whatever they're called, drove by a couple months before that (based on what was shown in the picture) and the maps we
    • Initially they don't need to. They will still be human driven at that stage. But you will drive yourself down your pot holed drive way, along the never graded dirt track until you get to state route 7, which has been mapped by the council. Then the car will take over and you can spin your chair around and sit on your laptop.

      Then 2 mins from where you need to exit off the mapped network, the car will alert you to get your shit together, back into your chair, looking forward and ready to take over. You wi

      • The reason why these will become wanted is the amount of traffic that will be able to be carried on the main roads will be orders of magnitude higher if all the cars are autonomous.

        Sure, I understand the benefits and I actually think self-driving cars would be amazing for rural drivers once they get onto main roads. Driving 50 miles to town on empty country roads is fun the first few times but quickly becomes the most tedious part of rural living. Automating that would be fantastic. My biggest worry about self driving cars is that while they may handle 99.9% of all situations for 99.9% of people, they will never get to 100%. So, if you happen to be part of that 0.1%, you will be m

        • It's there as a potential. But cars don't hit 100% of people now. I would suggest the benefits far out weigh the negatives and it will be a gradual process anyway so I'm hoping they will be ready for close to everywhere use when I'm past retirement.

    • In particular rural mountain areas with a foot of snow on the road.

      They'll probably just start by not going to those areas. Then slowly the cars will learn over time as data is gathered.

  • "Software will never be able to beat human reactions!" Yet in many cases now, it already has.

    Flying is in some respects much simpler than driving; and, auto-pilots can now take off, cruise, and land.

    The real test? What the insurance rates are -- self-driving cars will likely be a lower risk, and thus cost less to insure. Perhaps not at the beginning, while the kinks are being worked out. (Around the dial.)

    • Flying is in some respects much simpler than driving; and, auto-pilots can now take off, cruise, and land.

      Airplanes have been able to do that safely since before a lot of people on this site were born.

      With paying passengers no less:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      The first aircraft to be certified to CAT III standards, on 28 December 1968, was the Sud Aviation Caravelle

      Today you'll find autoland in both business jets and almost all airliners. It really isn't that hard.

      • Today you'll find autoland in both business jets and almost all airliners. It really isn't that hard.

        You will find it in a small fraction of the aircraft flying today, at a small fraction of the airports. It requires special certification for the aircraft and the pilot and the airport. It is not a commodity item that Joe Pilot can have Frank Mechanic install in his C182 and then pass control of the airplane over to Joe Junior the eight year old prodigy. Nobody has EVER suggested removing the pilot controls from the aircraft that have Cat III systems, nor does the FAA allow the pilots to snooze while the p

        • You will find it in a small fraction of the aircraft flying today, at a small fraction of the airports. It requires special certification for the aircraft and the pilot and the airport. It is not a commodity item that Joe Pilot can have Frank Mechanic install in his C182 and then pass control of the airplane over to Joe Junior the eight year old prodigy.

          All true, but not likely for the reasons you might think...

          Everything in aviation is just stupid expensive, for several reasons... The first is that it is an amazingly small market, so there is no volume to absorb R&D costs... The second is that it is completely and totally regulated by the FAA which is a very conservative organization. Perhaps rightly so in many ways, but having witnessed it firsthand, I can say that it has no incentive to change.

          Using such systems does not make getting the pilot license easier, either. A large part of the training for pilots of those aircraft is not "how to use the autopilot", it is "how to disable the autopilot when it fails".

          Actually, most aircraft that are used for learning to

          • Actually, most aircraft that are used for learning to fly, don't have autopilots.

            If you think that an aircraft with a Cat III autoland is being piloted by someone who just learned how to fly, you are crazy. Initial pilot training is done in aircraft without autopilots, or without using the one that is there, because initial pilot training is when a pilot learns how to fly, not how to manage the most complex and failure prone systems in the aircraft. Most initial training is done in aircraft where the "U" in "GUMP" (undercarriage, i.e. "landing gear" for non-pilots here) has the respons

            • I would like to think that if we were in the same room together, it would be possible to communicate more effectively...

              It feels like we're talking past each other, rather than with each other...

              ---

              You started talking about business and commercial jet autopilots where tens or hundreds of lives are at stake and saying how perfect and safe such systems are, and now you want to change to unmanned vehicles where passenger safety is irrelevant and crashes are relatively meaningless.

              The irony is that the autopilot in the Global Hawk is MUCH more advanced than the one in a 747, yet there is no one on board.

              All that means is the autopilot in the 747 is old and basic.

              Given a reason and enough money, that can be fixed, but there aren't enough 747s to justify the development cost and even then pe

              • The irony is that the autopilot in the Global Hawk is MUCH more advanced than the one in a 747, yet there is no one on board.

                "Advanced" doesn't necessarily mean "safer", and you've already admitted that there have been Global Hawk crashes. Even so, using the Global Hawk autopilot as an argument for how great automobile autopilots will be is just as wrong. Different systems, different cost, different operating environments, and even the easier case of a low-density operating environment isn't that perfect.

                and even then people wouldn't get into a 747 without pilots because of "fear".

                If you are a pilot who has any experience with aviation autopilots and you do not consider that fear to be justified, then I

    • The real test? What the insurance rates are -- self-driving cars will likely be a lower risk, and thus cost less to insure.

      All that means is that self drive cars will be associated with the poor, and rich people will still drive themselves to demonstrate their wealth. Pretty much like how rich people own yachts even though powerboats require less skill and maintenance.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    People arguing that some people will get hurt because a human no longer knows how to control the vehicle in an emergency are like anti-vaxxers saying their one child *might* react negatively to the vaccine. Both groups are ignoring the 99.9% of cases where people will NO LONGER BE DYING from STUPID SHIT.

  • "if this technology becomes pervasive, the skill of operating a vehicle will be lost" Based on my experience this has already happened (or more likely never existed in the first place ;-)

  • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Thursday October 15, 2015 @06:54PM (#50739723)

    So what if driving skills are lost. How many people can genuinely start a fire without a match, lighter or some other ready to go ignition device? How about those people who can actually remember the composition of gunpowder, and if they can know a way to actually get those ingredients? Ok, now about how to skin an animal, how to hunt, how to build shelter?

    If driving a car goes the way of riding horses then skills are lost to the general public and only retained by those with a particular interest in them. And you know what? Nothing of value was lost.

    • SPOCK: Yes. Yes.
      MCCOY: What is it, Spock?
      SPOCK; An invention, Doctor. First potassium nitrate, and now if he can find some sulphur and a charcoal deposit or ordinary coal.
      (Kirk is at the outcrop of sharp diamonds, and putting them into the bamboo too.)
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      And just as in the lighter vs. bow drill case, self-driving cars perform better and more consistently than most drivers. In six years and 1.8 million miles of testing Google's autonomous cars have been in twelve minor accidents, all of which were caused by human drivers.

      As for degraded skills, you can see this on the road with human driven cars every day; it comes from lazy habits creeping in; people stop using their turn signals; they cut through the wrong side of the road when they make a left turn; they

  • We'll do the same thing we do when current software fails. We'll fix bugs.
  • This is the most awesome thing ever. All you morons riding in your self driving cars will be forced to pull over because those of us with manual drive cars will figure out real quick your cars will do everything in its power to prevent a crash. All we have to do is act like we are going to run into your car and it will get out of our way. I will never be stuck in traffic again.
    • Hey, don't let them in on our plan.
      As a motorbike rider, I fully support more morons being forced to be passengers in robot cars :)
  • We live in an age where computers with excellent programming have extreme trouble and can't deal with reading some squiggly letters yet we expect them to flawlessly navigate in the real world equivalent of a captcha phrase?
    Adaptive cruse, proximity warning and even lane following on the freeway seem to be achievable today with a reasonable level of safety. But it's simply not going to be fully autonomous until we have as creative algorithms as living things employ. I mean its a sad state of affairs when i
  • So much human-hyping in that.

    Firstly, which skills, exactly, do you keep sharp through a monotonous, repetitive activity like highway driving? Especially in the US with its turtle-speed speed limits? With the Tesla and other car makers approach to autonomous driving, the car is not even trying to manage all possible situations, only the ones that are so fucking boring, humans actually fall asleep doing them.

    Secondly, what makes you think humans are better in emergency situations? For starters, we have this

interlard - vt., to intersperse; diversify -- Webster's New World Dictionary Of The American Language

Working...