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China Transportation AI Security Software Technology

Tesla Owner In China Blames Autopilot For Crash (usatoday.com) 277

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: The owner of a Tesla Motors Model S sedan in China reportedly said his vehicle crashed into a car on the side of the road while the vehicle's Autopilot system was engaged, but the automaker said the driver was using the system improperly. Luo Zhen, 33, of Beijing told Reuters that his vehicle collided with a parked car on the left side of a highway, damaging both vehicles but injuring no one. He criticized Tesla sales people for allegedly describing the vehicle as "self-driving." "The impression they give everyone is that this is self-driving, this isn't assisted driving," he told Reuters. In the new case in China, Tesla said the Model S was "following closely behind the car in front of it when the lead car moved to the right to avoid hitting the parked car." "The driver of the Tesla, whose hands were not detected on the steering wheel, did not steer to avoid the parked car and instead scraped against its side," Tesla said Wednesday in a statement. "As clearly communicated to the driver in the vehicle, Autosteer is an assist feature that requires the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel at all times, to always maintain control and responsibility for the vehicle, and to be prepared to take over at any time."
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Tesla Owner In China Blames Autopilot For Crash

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  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@@@evcircuits...com> on Wednesday August 10, 2016 @10:36PM (#52682029) Homepage

    I never heard about people being that stupid when cruise control was introduced into the mainstream. Autopilot, as it stands, is a smarter form of cruise control (it basically helps you maintain the speed without your foot on the pedal but it's a bit fancier than a fixed speed)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by luther349 ( 645380 )
      its more fancy lane assets and you never hear of people crashing there Prius and blaming its lane assest.
      • by aliquis ( 678370 )

        I think my friend had some sort of automatic Control, like keeping phase with the car in front of him or whatever it was. Anyway he also hit another car if I remember correctly and I would assume he blame the system which didn't do what it's supposed to do.

        • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

          Wait until the technology has matured before beginning to depend on it. So far, in the mainstream car industry, it could be fair to say that people using said technologies as if they were mature are merely beta testers.

    • "a device that steers a ship, aircraft, or spacecraft in place of a person" -- Merriam-Webster [merriam-webster.com]

      Gee, how could anyone be confused about that?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 )

        Name one autopilot & vehicle that totally the vehicle's operator of all responsibility and need to be attentive.

        You won't be able to, because none exist. An autopilot is a (useful) tool to reduce your workload. But it's not Knight Rider. You can't just get in, say "KITT, take me to KSMO", and sit back and go to sleep / read a book / get drunk. Autopilots have never worked that way. And no one, not even Tesla, has advertised them as such.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Opportunist ( 166417 )

          I can do exactly that in my car. I can say "KITT, take me to KSMO" and go to sleep.

          I won't get anywhere, of course, but I CAN DO THAT!

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday August 11, 2016 @02:51AM (#52682803) Homepage Journal

        Auto-pilot is Musk's "you're driving it wrong" moment.

        In theory you should sit there, fully attentive, hands on the wheel, ready to jump in with a fraction of a second's warning to avert a crash. In reality, human beings don't work that way.

        There are videos on YouTube of people asleep at the wheel with AP on. One hand resting on the wheel to keep the AP active. You can call them reckless, but as an engineer you have to take human nature and our inability to concentrate for long periods when here is little to do into account.

        • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

          Auto Pilot:

          I used to have to do a 60 mile drive to get to work for 6 months. Just about every day, around the same highway exits, I would slowly pass a guy driving an econoline while reading his full size newspaper, widely spread across the steering wheel and windshield.

          I would sometime slow down while passing him to have a good look at him and he wouldn't even react. He would just keep reading his newspaper.

          Maybe that's the kind of concentration needed to drive a Tesla car. I should go hang around those h

          • I see a guy on my commute once in awhile in his BMW doing the same thing with a newspaper. When I see him I pull up next to him and honk. He's going to kill someone one of these days. I think the next time I see him I may actually call 911 and report his license plate.

    • I never heard about people being that stupid when cruise control was introduced into the mainstream

      Cruise control doesn't require a disclaimer when you engage it. People switch to stupid mode when they see a disclaimer and then blame the entire world for not reading the manual.

    • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

      I never heard about people being that stupid when cruise control was introduced into the mainstream.

      It isn't limited to car drivers. Same thing happened is the airline industry. People naturally tend to rely too much on such technologies. It's amazing that they deploy it without proper training of people using it.

    • > I never heard about people being that stupid when cruise control was introduced into the mainstream.

      Look into discussions, and analyses, of "highway hypnosis". Cruise control is often cited as a big contributor to accident rates.

    • by DrXym ( 126579 )
      Inattentiveness is a natural consequence of a car that claims drives itself. Unless manufacturers figure a way of forcing attentiveness then crashes like this will continue to happen. Tesla is just the first to suffer this but it'll become even more of a problem as more automation appears in cars.
  • It needs LIDAR (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    That really needs LIDAR.

    We get it, Musk will blame the driver for not avoiding the collision, yeh yeh EULAs etc. But that doesn't fix the problem. That visual system does not work faultlessly, it is just diffing the two scenes to try to determine a 3D world view, and it clearly does not 'see' the world, it sees the deltas as the car moves. So they need to add LIDAR so it can see objects distances without trying to determine them with time deltas.

    • certainly would improve the system they clame cost but really its a 80,000$ car add it.
    • Elon is against lidar because it can't see through fog. They are working on updating the radar so that, instead of a single distance value, it can use multiple measurements in different directions to create a point cloud, much like the lidar systems that Google is using but using radar instead of light. Rumor has it that this might even be possible with the current hardware, only requiring a software update. I must say I have some doubts there.

      There have also been rumors about stereoscopic cameras in Tesla

  • by guises ( 2423402 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2016 @10:40PM (#52682045)
    From my understanding of driving conditions in China [youtube.com], it would take a pretty miraculous AI to prevent accidents there. It seems as though these driving assists and self-driving cars are going to have to be region-specific.
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2016 @11:27PM (#52682203)

      From my understanding of driving conditions in China [youtube.com], it would take a pretty miraculous AI to prevent accidents there.

      Not really. The rules in China are different, but probably simpler. Just slow down as you approach an intersection, ease into it, and slow down some more if you are going to collide with someone, turning a little to the left or right as you do so. If you watch the video you linked to, all the vehicles are using this simple algorithm. I lived in China for several years, and found it quite easy to adapt to their driving style. I had more difficulty adapting back to American style driving when I returned home. Americans go so fast.

      It seems as though these driving assists and self-driving cars are going to have to be region-specific.

      Definitely.

      • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @04:51AM (#52682997)

        There are two sets of rules in China, the simple and the complicated.

        The simple:
        1. There are no rules.

        The complicated:
        1. Lane markings are just to keep painters employed and can be ignored.
        2. Traffic police are to keep traffic police employed and can be ignored.
        3. Indicators are just to boost the lightbulb industry and don't serve any purpose.
        4. Horns are to communicate with drivers in all circumstances even if you have absolutely nothing to say.
        5. You always have right of way if you're bigger, infront, or more cars are queued up behind you than queued up behind the person you're cutting off.
        6. It is always the other person's fault.
        7. No the red light it meaningless it is always the other person's fault.

        In many ways the auto-pilot did the right thing and just ran into the person who dared to let you run into him.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by wvmarle ( 1070040 )

          Getting a driving license in China is also rather simple. You get a form with two questions, and if you answer both satisfactory (the correct answer being "Yes"), you get your license and you're good to go. The questions:

          1) Do you know how to drive?

          2) Are you sure?

      • by Malc ( 1751 )

        Yes exactly, and that's why there are suprisingly few accidents. The other extreme for me is Russia, where I see accidents every day on the way from hotel to office.

        I had some meetings in California a few years ago, and let one of my Shanghai colleagues drive my rental car. He was slowing down on the ramp on to the Interstate because he didn't feel safe with all the traffic flying by making no space. This scared the shit out of me because expect you to do quite the opposite: floor and go as fast as possi

  • the system even says to keep hand on wheel when you turn it on. its driver error when you dont. theirs a reason it can be overridden at anytime.
    • Keeping your hands on the wheel doesn't mean much. The manufacturers that require this may want us to think it is a proxy for paying attention, but it is not.

  • by McGiraf ( 196030 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2016 @10:58PM (#52682103)

    The have a sensor tha detects if hands are on the wheel.
    They say auto pilot should always be used with hands on wheel.
    Why don't they just disable it if you take you hands from the wheel?

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2016 @11:11PM (#52682149)

      Disabling the auto-steering feature when the driver's hands aren't on the wheel doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

      • by tsa ( 15680 )

        "This is your Tesla speaking. Thank you for taking your hands off the steering wheel. I know this great game: Hit the Granny! Look, there's one! Weee!"

    • Perhaps a 'beeping' sound after a few minutes / seconds?

      They are certainly not shy to buzz you incessantly if you have your seat-belt off!
    • Why don't they just disable it if you take you hands from the wheel?

      People pick their noses. Unless they are extremely bendy, this generally does not involve use of feet or genitalia.

      • Unless they are extremely bendy, this generally does not involve use of feet or genitalia.

        I've driven with my dick before. And let me tell you, the gas and brake aren't so bad, but that clutch can be a real bitch.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday August 11, 2016 @03:18AM (#52682851) Homepage Journal

      The sensor does stop the car after a couple of minutes of not touching the wheel or responding to prompts.

      I don't think forcing the user to keep their hands on the wheel at all times will help much. Take a look at this video of a guy sleeping with autopilot on [youtu.be], presumably with one hand on the wheel so that it thinks he is paying attention.

      The real issue here is that if the car does 99.9% of the work for hours on end you can't really expect human beings to remain attentive and ready to take over in a fraction of a second. Tesla have found the danger zone of inattentiveness between a high level of automation and full autonomy.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2016 @11:11PM (#52682147)

    This seems like exactly the sort of situation lane assist should handle. And if "auto pilot" was engaged, shouldn't it have prevented the driver from following too closely, as Musk is implying was the case?

    • This seems like exactly the sort of situation lane assist should handle. And if "auto pilot" was engaged, shouldn't it have prevented the driver from following too closely, as Musk is implying was the case?

      In China, "in the same prefecture as another vehicle" is synonymous with "following too closely".

  • No matter how many times you warn them, teach them, educate them - drivers will ALWAYS assume these system are more capable than they are. Especially given the instinct to blame anyone but themselves. I've always had a hard time visualizing an intermediate step between fully automatic and fully manual driving; and it appears that's coming true.

    • Especially given the instinct to blame anyone but themselves.

      They seemingly take after Elon in this regard.

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        Oh, you are SO clever. The fact is, Tesla blames identifiably STUPID and RECKLESS driver behavior. The drivers are PRETENDING there is blame on Tesla's part. Do you see the difference there, or is the difference too hard to grasp?

        • So we're trying to prevent deaths caused by stupid and careless drivers by introducing technology that will cause even MORE damage when people are stupid and careless?
    • I've always had a hard time visualizing an intermediate step between fully automatic and fully manual driving; and it appears that's coming true.

      Drive a car with antilock brakes in slippery conditions.

      When it kicks the bottom of your foot to indicate it's working, you will be able to visualize the intermediate step.

  • Car driver gets in accident. Blames anything and everything for the accident besides himself. And in other news, water is wet.
  • It seems we'll need to introduce licences for autopilot features. Until a driver can demonstrate they're not stupid, they are not licensed to sue it.
    • Just because someone can demonstrate ability to test, doesn't necessarily mean they are intelligent.

      • Well, they dont need to be intelligent. As long as they can demonstrate the ability to use autopilot correctly (even in simulated crashes), they can be allowed to use autopilot in tesla.

        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          I think the point is that merely possessing the ability, and demonstrating it on isolated demand, does not mean they will necessarily USE IT consistently.

  • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2016 @11:36PM (#52682241) Journal

    You're driving it wrong.

  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @02:38AM (#52682769)

    What's the deal? This stopped being "news" after the first two.
    All the stories are alike:

    1. Driver engages "autopilot"
    2. Driver takes hands off wheel / stops paying attention to the road.
    3. Driver crashes; blames "autopilot" instead of own stupidity.

  • by gordguide ( 307383 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @09:43AM (#52684021)
    Tesla Says:
    " ...
    "As clearly communicated to the driver in the vehicle, Autosteer is an assist feature that requires the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel at all times, to always maintain control and responsibility for the vehicle, and to be prepared to take over at any time." ..."

    Now, I hesitate to say this out loud, as this is a Nerd website, but this instruction is beyond silly. There is zero chance any human with a working brain is going to adhere to this instruction, and although I understand how it comes to be, it's a testament to a lack of even basic comprehension of a User Interface that is so unfortunately common amongst the nerdy citizens of the world.

    Let's imagine this instruction in use. I'm driving my so-equipped vehicle:
    Situation: Nothing unusual happening. Both hands on the wheel, Mind and Body attentive to the road. Alert and ready at any moment to take over from the auto driver. Car driving itself.
    Repeat every second of a 20 minute commute for a thousand days. Or three days.

    Now, what human, in possession of the faculties required to actually have a paying job and a drivers' license, is not going to become bored with this scenario, and at some point do something ... anything ... that involves glancing somewhere not on the road in front of them, and involves moving one or both hands from the wheel?

    And, after testing the waters, so to speak, and not dying in a fiery crash, won't do it again, only for a bit longer and perhaps with hands much further from said wheel and eyes much removed from the road ahead?

    There cannot be a "half-way" system, such as that installed in the Tesla S, that drives, but does not drive, the car. It simply won't work in the manner the instructions say it should work.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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