back to article Senators urge US trade watchdog to look into whether Tesla may just be over-egging its Autopilot, FSD pudding

Two US senators have called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Tesla over concerns the automaker is misleading people by exaggerating or misrepresenting the abilities of its vehicles' Autopilot and Full-Self Driving (FSD) features. Sens. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) put out a public letter [ …

  1. ShadowSystems

    I should sue for false advertising.

    Can I, a totally blind person without a driver's license, climb in the back & have the car do everything by itself with no interaction from me at all? No? Then that's not autonomous. It's not "fully self driving" by any stretch of reality. If I still need a driver's license, need to be in the front with my hands on the wheel, & need to be able to take over for any reason, then all your advertising is a load of utter horseshite. Stop calling it an autopilot. Stop calling it FSD. It is neither of those things & I'd love to sue your lying ass into oblivion you floppy cockwomble.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I should sue for false advertising.

      With the right lawyer(s) you'd probably have a good chance of winning. But it would take some deep pockets as I don't think it would be an easy fight. Musk has (apparently) lots of lawyers of his own.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: I should sue for false advertising.

        But it would take some deep pockets as I don't think it would be an easy fight. Musk has (apparently) lots of lawyers of his own.

        I suspect you're right. Mainly because AFAIK, there's no class action ongoing representing FSD licencees who've been sold a heavily caveated turkey. And this kind of thing usually attracts lawyers like flies to a roadkill.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I should sue for false advertising.

          Their probably being careful, apparently someone can call people pedos. as long as it's deleted later.

          https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-50695593

          and seems relevent https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaUCDZ9d09Y

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: I should sue for false advertising.

          "I suspect you're right. Mainly because AFAIK, there's no class action ongoing representing FSD licencees who've been sold a heavily caveated turkey. And this kind of thing usually attracts lawyers like flies to a roadkill."

          Elon's luck has shown he is coated in PTFE. I thought he had it with the "pedo guy" suit, but he got off. The SEC seemed to have him bang to rights on the 420 tweet and subsequent disregard of his tweets being vetting by company attorneys prior to posting as agreed in the settlement. Some analysis of the Solar City buyout trial shows Elon telling some whoppers, but he may walk away smelling like roses once again with the $8bn in stock he gained from that (at currentish prices). The blood sucking lawyer-verse may be intimidated by this anti-guilty superpower that he has and don't want to do all of the work required only to lose to go after him.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I should sue for false advertising.

      Exactly right.

      If you can't climb in and give a verbal destination to the vehicle and sit back and relax until you have reached the destination, you are not in a Fully Self Driving vehicle.

      Basically it should be a ground version of a Johnny Cab.

      Tesla is not the only offender as most of the people marketing autonomous vehicles are talking up their capabilities beyond actuality but Tesla made a mistake in calling their system Autopilot because its very name misleads drivers into thinking it can do more than it is able to.

      As things are AVs need much stronger legislation and accident investigation to encourage makers to put safety before sales.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I should sue for false advertising.

        Meaning it's not really Autopilot unless it's Otto. No less...

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: I should sue for false advertising.

        Upvote purely for the Johnny Cab reference.

    3. Lil Endian

      RHT-FSD

      If L2 automation is sold as Fully Self Driving, what would they call L5 automation? "Really Honestly Truly Fully Self Driving"?

      The misnomers are tantamount to cure-all snake oils, just wrong, and should be followed up as criminal misrepresentation. Legal action should be by the Government(s), as they (if willing) can out-lawyer the corporate.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I should sue for false advertising.

      Indeed. The more I read about what Teslas are actually capable of, the more it sounds like the speed-aware/adaptive cruise control and lane assistance that came as standard in my VW Golf. The thing that my Golf is lacking is something to look for and avoid (or crash into, depending on software reliability) other vehicles/pedestrians

    5. jtaylor Bronze badge

      Re: I should sue for false advertising.

      "Stop calling it an autopilot. Stop calling it FSD. It is neither of those things & I'd love to sue"

      While I completely agree with your sentiment, it might not be easy to construct a legal claim. For example, start by defining terms like "autopilot" and "Fully Self Driving." Tesla has lawyers who arrived before you did.

      It will be a great day when non-drivers can just hire a car. Tesla may not be the shortest path to get us there. In a capitalist system, companies like Uber have a stronger incentive.

      1. Lil Endian

        Re: I should sue for false advertising.

        Obviously jurisdiction is important, so I'm talking England and not the USofA.

        In English law the absolute definitions would be irrelevant, as they're essentially arbitrary. Rather the principle of the "Man on the Clapham omnibus" would be used.

        I don't know if that's applicable across the UK/GB.

        It would be reasonable for said Man to read FSD as meaning FSD, so clearly deceptive I would imagine. The courts may see it differently, but that'd suck.

        Edit: conversely, the drink that advertises itself with "gives you wings" would not "fool da Man" - he'd have to be waaaaay below the average man to think the drink actually did give you wings! (or on some top grade A class) :D

  2. Norman123

    I bet the competition is having their own party to get even (in the marketplace....

  3. DS999 Silver badge

    Didn't Musk

    Tweet claims that by the end of 2020 Tesla owners who had signed up for "full self driving" could make tens of thousands of dollars a year having their car operate as a robotaxi?

    I wonder if we will start seeing lawsuits from people who bought the cars based on that promise - I mean owning a car that could earn far more than it cost in just a few years would make it a pretty compelling purchase. Sure only an idiot would believe Musk's claims, but he's the CEO of the company. He's the one who claimed there would be a "million Tesla robotaxis on the road by 2020" only a couple years ago, and talked up how much money Tesla owners could make having their car whore itself out while they slept.

    If nothing else the FTC should investigate him for false advertising, or the SEC considering the timing of that proclamation right before Tesla got a much needed $2.3 billion from the sale of stock and convertible bonds when it had a dire cash shortage in 2019.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Didn't Musk

      PT Barnum would be right about those who bought one thinking they'd make some good money doing that.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        If I'm putting between €40K and €120K in a car, I'll be damned if I rent it out to some puking party-goer who'll fuck all over the back seat and leave the mess for me to mop up.

        1. DS999 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Musk will claim AI can solve the problem

          If it detects people have soiled the car, it locks them in and refuses to let them out until they've cleaned it with the cleaning kit you've helpfully left in the center console.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Musk will claim AI can solve the problem

            "If it detects people have soiled the car, it locks them in and refuses to let them out until they've cleaned it with the cleaning kit you've helpfully left in the center console."

            If the car locks them in, Tesla better perfect that bullet proof glass and add cut-proof materials since having to repair/replace either will take months to get the parts in from Tesla going by past performance.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Didn't Musk

      "Tweet claims that by the end of 2020 Tesla owners who had signed up for "full self driving" could make tens of thousands of dollars a year having their car operate as a robotaxi?"

      I don't think they ever factored in having to clean fluids and semi-fluids from the seats and carpets on a regular basis. If you are in the back seat with your date and there isn't any driver.............

  4. Mark192

    I am kind of surprised...

    I am kind of surprised we don't have infrastructure designed to aid driving aids:

    - roads could tell the cars the speed limit and they'd not drift over it (but deliberate acceleration would override it). The system could be as simple as a machine-readable bit of paint on the road instead of complicated AI trying to spot speed limit signs and work out if it's for you or the junction you're going past etc.

    This would allow people to concentrate on potential hazards rather than keep checking the speed (or keep adjusting the manual speed limiter, or drive inappropriately on cruise control)

    - Car makers required/incentivised to fit adaptive cruise control as standard. Stops vehicles getting too close and hard breaking, adaptive part reduces slow overtakes (because car just reduces speed by that 0.25mph speed differential). Users free to ignore the feature. Cost to users & companies is small - cruise control is cheap to add (though at present, not cheap for the consumer when selecting the options)

    There are probably other relatively inexpensive ways to increase safety and improve traffic flow that are relatively low tech and cost effective but we seem to be leaving it to individual companies who then have to focused on a high - tech approach as the infrastructure doesn't allow for a more reliable low - tech solution.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I am kind of surprised...

      I don't know where you are but where I am one is lucky if the centerline is marked anywhere but the major interstate highway and even then, it fades away pretty fast due to the amount of traffic. As for most of the streets in town.... forget about pavement markings and many times even speed signs.

      Solve the wear and tear problem on the roads and you might be on to something.

      1. Jim84

        Re: I am kind of surprised...

        Yes, most cities (in the US at least) struggle to maintain the roads in their masses of car dependent suburbia, as these places don't generate enough tax/property tax to cover the medium term cost of maintaining basic metal roads after the original private suburban developer has left laughing all the way to the bank "We'll build the roads, sewers, pipes, you (the municipality) just have to maintain it...".

        1. Twanky
          Flame

          Local taxes

          Jim84 is certainly right in that if we can't (or won't) pay the maintenance costs then we can't have nice things. Buying a new shiny car (or pocket computer) every year or so is essentially paying a maintenance fee. People complain about paying local taxes but scream blue murder when there's a pothole on their daily commute or failed streetlamps in their neighbourhood - or if a service which 'should be free' isn't available.

          Collecting and sharing out the local (or central) taxes fairly is obviously a complicated task which is why we elect professional salesmen politicians to do this work. Trouble is, we rarely think about it again until the next elections; if then.

      2. Kevin Johnston

        Re: I am kind of surprised...

        My daughter's car has a camera set to pick up speed limit signs and show them on the dashboard as a driver-assistance. A lovely idea but general clutter brings the hit rate down to probably 60% or so and it can be even worse away from primary roads where foliage grows rampant in the hedgerows.

        If even a passive 'advisory' system struggles then a system using this to actively control the car could never be considered acceptable.

        1. hoola Silver badge

          Re: I am kind of surprised...

          Which also brings us full circle. If as a driver, you need a camera to point out a mandatory sign at the side of the road that is your responsibility to see, should you even be driving?

          It is just the same as the sat nav systems with the speed information (quite often wrong) that bing, bong & flash all sorts of noises that all indicate different things. Unfortunately it all just becomes sensory clutter in the car and useless.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: I am kind of surprised...

            "Which also brings us full circle. If as a driver, you need a camera to point out a mandatory sign at the side of the road that is your responsibility to see, should you even be driving?"

            So it is the driver's responsibility to have x-ray vision to look for a sign that has become otherwise impossible to see due to overgrowth, numerous mud splashes, or (my personal favorite) a drunk autopinball (the latter of which won't be possible to see even with x-ray vision)? And let's not begin to consider people who are new to town and don't have the foggiest idea of the customary positions of signs which can differ from place to place (having driven a few states south a few months ago, I speak from personal experience).

        2. mutt13y

          Re: I am kind of surprised...

          It gets worse. Mercedes drive pilot (arguably better than tesla's drive pilot)

          Reads the signs and if enabled changes the cruise setting to that speed.

          Now you get foreign trucks on the motorway with (90) [Kph] on the back. Car sees that and sets the cruise to 90Mph!

          Currently even the best systems only work in close to ideal road conditions. Bad lane markings, heavy rain, snow, fog and they cant cope.

          1. Mark #255
            Terminator

            Re: I am kind of surprised...

            Alternatives could be just as bad.

            I recently drove a hire car (a VW Passat) which could alter the cruise control speed to match the road signs.

            Except it was clearly also using a database of speed limits: there's a stretch of road nearby where the 40 limit was extended for a further quarter-mile, about 6 years ago. As I passed the 40 repeater (at the old derestricted post), it decided that 60 was clearly the speed I ought to be doing, and activated the loud pedal.

        3. KBeee Silver badge

          Re: I am kind of surprised...

          There is going to be compulsory speed limit recognition systems fitted to all new cars in Europe soon, with automatic compliance to the speed limit built in. Fortunately the driver will be able to turn the auto compliance system off (at first). If you turn it off, you will be warned the car thinks you are speeding, but the form of that warning has yet to be decided. It ranges from a speed warning light on the dashboard, to a loud buzzing or beeping till you slow down.

          Having watched a video of a car with it already fitted (Bently Bentayga I think, using automatic cruise control), and seeing the car on the Autoroute suddeny slow from 120 kph to 80 kph because it mistook the speed limit sign for heavy goods vehicles as the general speed limit, I am not looking forwards to this. On my last journey I was told by my traffic sign recognition system that a 30 mph road was 40 mph, and it missed the sign that changed the speed limit from 30 to 20 mph. It also told me that the 50 mph dual carriageway was 30 mph.

          Think of the fun that kids will have with a jar of Tippex and a black marker pen changing those 30 mph signs to 80's, or the 120 kph's to 20's!

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: I am kind of surprised...

            "Think of the fun that kids will have with a jar of Tippex and a black marker pen changing those 30 mph signs to 80's, or the 120 kph's to 20's!"

            Why aren't they doing it already, given how easy it is to fool human drivers?

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: I am kind of surprised...

              "Why aren't they doing it already, given how easy it is to fool human drivers?"

              Because most people are going to realize that the sign has been played with. At least they should know that a zone that should be 30mph isn't going to be 80mph or some other mismatch.

              With stupid automation, it will be very easy to mess with the cars by changing the signs.

              1. Cuddles Silver badge

                Re: I am kind of surprised...

                Exactly. The human brain is actually quite good at tasks like this which require taking context into account. Sure, it wouldn't be that difficult to fool people into thinking a 40mph limit is instead a 30mph limit. But doing the opposite would actually be quite difficult because most people would notice something strange about a small residential street having an unusually high limit (there's actually a road near me with a short stretch of 40mph between two villages that sees exactly this - something around half of drivers never speed up because it just feels weird for the limit to change there). And you can never fool any competent driver that the limit is actually 80mph, because no such limit exists anywhere in this country.

                The problem with automated driving is that it's still attempting to reach an incredibly basic level. Successfully recognising a speed limit sign is not trivial, and as other comments note is difficult enough that such systems frequently fail. Recognising such a sign, and then looking at the surroundings to figure out is the answer is at all reasonable is not something anyone is even close to attempting yet. That's something we humans do all the time without even noticing.

                Fooling humans in some ways is incredibly easy. But that's largely because we've had thousands of years to figure out which those easy ways are. If you see an area in which it seems it should be easy to fool people, but no-one is actively doing so, it's probably not because no-one has thought of it, but rather that it's not actually as easy as you think. The problem with fooling machines is that most of the obvious ways to fool them actually do work, and in many cases the mitigation can be orders of magnitude more complicated - recognising a number isn't too difficult on its own, figuring out if the number makes sense in context really is.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: I am kind of surprised...

          "My daughter's car has a camera set to pick up speed limit signs and show them on the dashboard as a driver-assistance."

          My satnav has the speed limits built in (garmin) and seems to be pretty good. There is some major construction near my home with reduced speeds and it doesn't know about that, obviously. If I'm going too fast, my speed on the satnav turns red. I never have the sound on so I'm not sure if there are audible warnings.

          For the car to see and properly read speed limit signs, it needs to be pretty good. If an automated car is doing that, some joker could throw a spanner into a stretch of road by adding or changing signs. For Europe, the car would need to know that the limits are in kmh or mph if the driver is going from the UK to the mainland. There's a big difference between 100kph and 100mph. Same thing between the US and Canuckistan when the borders are open.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am kind of surprised...

      You're talking about an ideal world.

      I agree to a certain extent that modifying the roads will make it easier for the cars, but who is going to pay for it? I'm still waiting for the council to repair the holes in the existing road.

      Cynical mode - will different car makers agree on a standard? Had a vision of an error message "This road is incompatible with your car"

      IIRC - there was something on here some time ago that you could alter a speed sign with a piece of black tape and the car would speed up. Even if you had machine readable signs, how long before some one either paints over it completely, or change it?

    3. sabroni Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: surprised we don't have infrastructure designed to aid driving aids:

      Really? Are you surprised by the lack of parking for hover cars too?

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I am kind of surprised...

      There is, at least in theory, an existing way that needs no infrastructure on the roads themselves and that's by linking a database of speed limits to GPS. There are issues such as the GPS being sufficiently precise to distinguish between two adjacent roads with different speed limits. There are also issues such as temporary limits for road works or variable speed limits.

      There are also issues of working out just what the limit is supposed to be in some areas. I'm pretty sure the road where I live is at 30mph limit. It branches, a short distance away, from a 3 mile stretch of main road with speed limit signs at each and and, like the main road it has street lighting. But it also branches somewhat further away from another stretch of main road which is clearly indicated as national speed limit and there are no speed limit signs anywhere in between those stretches of road, not even where the street lights stop (or start) depending on the direction of travel. Or stop and start again depending on the route taken through the network of lanes. If TPTB can't be bothered to sort out existing signage they're certainly not going to add more machine readable signage and, presumably, whoever drew up the database the SatNav devices use has had to guess where the exact limits are just like any other driver.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: I am kind of surprised...

        A road near where I used to live was remarkably badly speed-signed: after a 40mph stretch - complete with speed camera at the bottom of the hill, there was a short section of dual carriageway (automatically 70 unless otherwise indicated) which dropped back to single carriageway (ditto, but 60). A half mile later is a roundabout, and immediately before the roundabout a derestricted sign (so 60). Looking the other way the exit from the roundabout indicated 50...

        1. dkjd

          Re: I am kind of surprised...

          Speed limit is 30mph if there are street lights, no matter how many carriageways there are

          https://www.gov.uk/speed-limits

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I am kind of surprised...

          There is a 30mph sign on a road near where i live. Its just in front of the 40mph sign

      2. vichardy

        Re: I am kind of surprised...

        There must be some sort of national database that all states and municipalities have to input to. Google is usually spot on when you pass a new sign, and waze also. New construction not so much.

      3. Reg Reader 1

        Re: I am kind of surprised...

        I wonder if Tesla knows of a satellite company with enough presence to be able to deliver accurate enough GPS?

        and I didn't know this, for sure, until I googled it but Starlink does.

        https://telecomstechnews.com/news/2020/sep/28/starlink-satellites-robust-navigation-gps/

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: I am kind of surprised...

          "I wonder if Tesla knows of a satellite company with enough presence to be able to deliver accurate enough GPS?"

          GPS can be accurate to a couple of CM, but not for civilians. All GPS systems have built in error that can be changed or access to the system shut off completely for national security reasons. If Starlink were to implement super accurate GPS, Elon would go missing and black SUVs would show up at all of their offices in a coordinated raid.

    5. NXM

      Re: I am kind of surprised...

      I'm not going to pay for a Tesla. And I'm not going to pay to alter all the roads so people who did can use their pretty toy. They can pay for it.

    6. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: I am kind of surprised...

      "simple as a machine-readable bit of paint on the road"

      Yeah, there would never be any problems with that working. /sarc

  5. _LC_ Silver badge
    Holmes

    Tesla seems to be protected

    Tesla seems to be protected. Otherwise, it is hard to fathom how you can sue anybody for anything in the US, which makes for those silly stickers everywhere (don't put your pets in the micro-oven, etc.). Coffee too hot? Get a few millions. Teslas killing people left and right – mehhh, shit just happens...

    They have competitors with billions in their pockets. They could afford to sue, but they don't or nothing comes of it. This seems rigged.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tesla seems to be protected

      The other car makers don't have an army of dedicated disciples ready to pounce on any dissent towards Muck.

      The Tesla Cult has spread well beyond the USA. We are seeing it here in Blighty. We'll see lots of examples of it at Farnborough on the 4th, 5th and 6th Sept. The first talk is all about how far Tesla is ahead of everyone else.

      Tesla might have some decent tech but their build quality harks back to the days of BL in the 1970's.

      The Tesla Owners will be out in force at Farnborough, telling anyone who will listen that every other EV is a POS and should be scrapped because their computer on wheels is 0.001 seconds faster on the 0-60 drag race. Not everyone wants or can handle 0-60 in 1.9 seconds or whatever the Model S Plaid does it in.

      I nearly got sucked in but found so many defects in my car that they had to take it back. I pity the poor sod who is driving that lemon now.

      Muck is a con man out of the Donald J Trump Univeristy of grift. Just my opinion though.

      1. _LC_ Silver badge

        Re: Tesla seems to be protected

        Such "cults" are usually perpetrated by secret services in the US. Otherwise, there wouldn't be such favorable media coverage. I agree on the "con man". He seems to have a similar history.

        1. sabroni Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Such "cults" are usually perpetrated by secret services in the US.

          Of course they are. Just send an FOI request to "the secret services, the USA" and they'll send you back a spreadsheet of all the cults they run (excel mind, not open office!).

      2. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Tesla seems to be protected

        "Muck is a con man out of the Donald J Trump Univeristy of grift."

        There are some similarities, but I think the Trumper probably knows he's lying whereas Musk very likely actually believes that he's only one modest breakthrough away from success. But that doesn't make Musk's advertising for "Autopilot" any less irresponsible. Long past time to shut this nonsense down.

        ... And while they are at it, ban Over The Air software updates to safety related systems for ALL car manufacturers BEFORE one tiny mistake kills or maims a bunch of folk.

        1. _LC_ Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Tesla seems to be protected

          There might be a simple reason for this. It is obvious to anybody that Musk is on Coke, Speed or some other stimulants. You can clearly see this from the pupils and his behavior. No, this is not “his disease” coming through, nor is it his “medication”. It is amazing that none of the law enforcement officers seems to notice this fact. Someone is completely off his rocker, flying a kite, so to speak, while sending a mini-submarine around the world, only to go berserk afterwards, because his bubble had burst. They cart him before a judge and the judge virtually forbids him to type. Yet, there is no talk of drugs. Is the judge blind, stupid or something else?

          So, yes – he appears to be protected and his kite hasn't been forced to land so far.

      3. MarkTriumphant

        Re: Tesla seems to be protected

        Upvoted for mentioning Fully Charged, which I was not aware of, and can get to quite easily. Thanks.

      4. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Re: Tesla seems to be protected

        A Tesla is only faster for the first few drag races, then you need to park it with a bunch of fans blowing over the batteries so that you can charge them again.

        Meanwhile any but the most run down POS ICE car just needs to refuel eventually and off you go for some more racing.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Tesla seems to be protected

      Otherwise, it is hard to fathom how you can sue anybody for anything in the US, which makes for those silly stickers everywhere (don't put your pets in the micro-oven, etc.).

      My favourite is still something along the lines of "May cause death or serious injury. Read the manual. Keep out of reach of children". Stamped into the barrel of a Ruger GP100 I used to own.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Tesla seems to be protected

        "My favourite is still something along the lines of "May cause death or serious injury. Read the manual. Keep out of reach of children". Stamped into the barrel of a Ruger GP100 I used to own."

        My fav is "pinch point" stickers on the doors and tailgates of BNSF railway service vehicles. It got me wondering how many union brain surgeons were slamming their fingers in the doors of their trucks to spend the money on a bunch of warning stickers. They should just slap on one of AVE's "Not to be operated by fuckwits" stickers and be done with it.

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Tesla seems to be protected

      Their competitors, the real automotive industry does not have billions in their pockets. From a financing, regulation and legal perspective Tesla/Musk are treated as a tech company. They attract huge amounts of capital and have valuations that are utterly insane when set against what they actually produce.

      These tech also routinely believe that regulation does not apply to them and will only comply in arears that have a direct impact on the product. So in this case things like NCAP ratings and requirements to make the vehicle road legal (in the most basic sense).

      Tesla make a loss making their cars, profits came from dodgy Bitcoin dealings.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Tesla seems to be protected

        "They attract huge amounts of capital and have valuations that are utterly insane when set against what they actually produce."

        The valuation has no connection to the size of the market either. It's one thing to be enthusiastic about a company, but it's another to thing to think their market cap can be more than what a reasonable marketshare might be for the company.

        Tesla did actually eek out a tiny profit last quarter from sales of their principal product (cars). It might have to do with a reduction in R&D spending along with some other one time cost containments. The income from carbon credit sales will eventually fall to nothing. GM figured out that by selling the Bolt, even at a loss, earns them credits that let them sell high margin trucks and SUV's without buying credits from a competitor.

        I'm itching to see the PSA group start selling EV's in the US. Bjorn Nyland has done some nice reviews recently on them. I'd want a bigger battery since where I am is spread out and the ones he's reviewed are ranged for getting around in greater Europe. There isn't much choice for EV's in the US yet. What's available is pretty expensive. The used market is also running high right now as people have been snapping up any good deals due to gas prices going up.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    "Tesla owners should be 'paranoid' when using the tech"

    Oh I am paranoid.

    I am so paranoid that I don't have a Tesla.

  7. Lil Endian
    Holmes

    Appropriate Licensing

    In the UK drivers may learn to drive, and be licensed for, automatic cars only. They're then not permitted to drive manual shift vehicles (without re-testing).

    Surely drivers wishing to use automated vehicles should be tested and licensed as such. They could be licensed for Level (X) automation and below.

    1. batfink Silver badge

      Re: Appropriate Licensing

      But that still wouldn't eliminate the fuckwits who believe Tesla's false advertising and (actively or passively) then go on to completely surrender control of the car.

    2. jtaylor Bronze badge

      Re: Appropriate Licensing

      That would make sense, to have slightly different qualifications to manage a self-driving car or to drive a car without such automation.

      I need to go all Bombastic Bob for a second here. IT'S TOO BLOODY HARD TO FIND A MANUAL TRANSMISSION CAR IN THE US. Regular commuter and family cars are all automatic. The US "Big 3" stopped making normal cars; it's all pony cars and oversized SUVs. Honda has a few. Volkswagen Auto Group was the only maker where I found a decent selection.

      1. Lil Endian
        Pint

        Re: Appropriate Licensing

        Yeah I realise the States is "fully automatic". I used "manual shift" as it's more of an Americanism AFAIK. "Stick Shift" would've been even better maybe.

        I need to go all Bombastic Bob... lawl, that made me chuckle! [Heya Bob! :D]

      2. David Woodhead

        Re: Appropriate Licensing

        Volkswagen Auto Group was the only maker where I found a decent selection.

        And bizarrely, the VW Audi group also makes the finest automatic gearboxes (DSG) available, in my humble opinion. If you opt for the steering wheel paddles you can drive it as a manual if you wish, but the automatic mode is so good that it will shift better than you can.

        Unfortunately, Ford messed up the dual clutch gearbox market in the US by putting out a poor version which had a lot of problems in the Focus, so the concept never really took off over there. You're still stuck with torque converters.

        (Disclaimer: I am a Right-pondian with a Skoda Superb 2 litre petrol automatic. Best car I've ever owned, apart from the touch screen interfaces which were designed by an autistic chimpanzee. I have no connection to VW Audi.)

  8. Spinux

    Common sense and responsibility

    I drive a Tesla myself and use the autopilot a lot. And it is nothing more than traffic-aware cruise control and lane assist. And yes it is called Autopilot. If I want to be able to engage it, I have to activate the option, which clearly states 'beta'.

    Each time I engage this function I am reminded to keep my hands on the wheel at all times. If I do not have my hands on the wheel, after 15 seconds I get a visual warning, which will increase in frequency and change from blue to red, before screaming warnings, and eventually, the car will slow down and get to a complete stop (I have tested this to see what happens).

    So you have to actively bypass the system, hanging something on the steering wheel or put weight on your seat, or whatever some morons put on Youtube to get yourself into serious trouble. But hey, people put hamsters in their microwave until it was added to the manual they shouldn't..........

    This issue is about advertising the system as Autopilot. But since when can we trust advertising?? ABS braking systems do not prevent accidents but are boasted as a safety feature nonetheless.

    1. _LC_ Silver badge

      Re: Common sense and responsibility

      Problem being: This is real life. You are beta-testing it on real life people that can die for real.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Common sense and responsibility

      Common sense isn't as common as you think.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Common sense and responsibility

        Or "Common sense: so rare, it's a superpower"

    3. vichardy

      Re: Common sense and responsibility

      You can die in 15 seconds. I recently purchased a new Acura MDX that has a lane keeping feature and it works pretty well, until it doesn't. It shows a display of a left and right lane marker which is lit when it sees them and unlit when it loses 'lock' on the lane. At that point, it can and usually will head straight ahead as the road curves and this happens very fast.

      This can be stressful as I realized that in this mode I really am a safety driver and I have to participate in the driving. I cannot take my eyes off the road for more than a couple seconds or I'm at risk. Now I have it dialed in and only use it on the freeways at speed with moderate curves and it does better.

      I've driven several Teslas over the last year and I'd guess their lane keeping/self driving is second to none and probably loses lane lock a lot less than my car, but anybody who is lulled into thinking they can take their hands off the wheel and not engage with the driving is rolling the dice.

      I think in this regard the Tesla system is almost too good and people put too much stock into it's reliability, like the guy who was playing a video game when the car slammed into a truck.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Common sense and responsibility

        The main issue is boredom and drifting concentration.

        When driving you normally have some input to do which mainly keeps you alert (although some people seem to drive on autopilot in their heads!) .

        But when a car is doing the basic lane keeping, very little to keep your mind occupied on the task, boredom will set in and your concentration drifts, then your fucked.

        I'm not sure how 50% of people manage to live a single day they are so fucking obviously stupid. so relying on any kind of sense is fucking pointless.

  9. vichardy

    I'd be more concerned that a Tesla charging in your garage catches on fire at night when you're sleeping (happened recently).

    I've test-driven three Teslas and their capabilities for self-driving really are impressive; AFAIK, nobody comes close. A recent test drive from LA to SF was accomplished with the safety driver never touching the steering wheel. It pulled out of the parking lot, negotiated stop signs and traffic lights, pedestrians etc, got on I5 and made the trip. Truly amazing. The first time I drove one I put on the left turn signal and it (to my surprise) changed lanes for me and a chill went up my spine.

    But then a few minutes later in the rain and in a curve it lost the lane makers and quickly headed for a brick wall on the right. That got my attention and I realized that you have to be 100% engaged and looking at the road. In that respect, if you're doing your job it can be more stressful than turning it off.

    I'm dubious that 100% reliable self driving cars (or worse, trucks) will ever pass muster and all it will take is one accident at speed where many people lose their lives and that will be it. There's a lot of money being poured into this (recent 60 minutes show about S/D trucks is chilling) for obvious reasons but the industry is still a long, long ways off imho.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "There's a lot of money being poured into this (recent 60 minutes show about S/D trucks is chilling) for obvious reasons but the industry is still a long, long ways off imho."

      There are already videos of people shown breaking into trucks and looting whatever's inside while it's moving. An automated truck can be made to stop by pulling in front and slowing down where a human driver can take evasive action and call for help. Even if an automated truck yells for help (robotically), it won't be able to communicate the details of the problem. The outcome would be that certain areas and roads will be redlined by trucking companies and if they are going to have to have security people onboard, they might as well drive the truck too. All of this completely ignores the things drivers have to do apart from driving. They may need to queue up at a depot, receive manifests, stop for inspections/law enforcement, etc. Permit loads would be another thing and so is chains in the winter or noticing that something has broken on the truck. An automated truck won't notice anything wrong it isn't programmed to notice.

  10. ian 22
    Alert

    Paranoia strikes deep, into your car it will creep

    It’s bad enough that I must watch other cars like a hawk, but now I need to also watch mine also? I do like automatic cruise control, but only as a backup to my own imperfect driving.

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