back to article Tesla reportedly faces criminal probe into self-driving hype

The US Department of Justice has reportedly launched a criminal investigation into Tesla and its boasts about its self-driving car technology. This probe could lead to federal criminal charges against the automaker, according to Reuters. The investigation kicked off, we're told, after a series of prangs in which Teslas in …

  1. Georgski

    People who think "Autopilot" means autonomy, need to spend 5 seconds googling that topic.

    "Full Self Driving" OTOH ...

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      WTF?

      But they won't

      People who think "Autopilot" means autonomy, need to spend 5 seconds googling that topic.

      And five seconds will just be long enough to skim a list in which the first four entries are not about autonomous movement of aircraft.

      They're not even about Tesla, or Musk.

      They're about some Microsoft product.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But they won't

        That's not really true. The first entry is some Micro$hit crap, but directly to the right of that is the Wikipedia entry, with the text

        "An autopilot is a system used to control the path of an aircraft, marine craft or spacecraft without requiring constant manual control by a human operator. Autopilots do not replace human operators."

        clearly visible on the google page.

    2. Alumoi Silver badge
      Joke

      People who think autopilot means autonomy associate Tesla's autopilot with a plane's autopilot from the movies. You know, push the button to engage autopilot then go boink the stewardess, rescue the old lady with a heart attack/president...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        .. which is exactly why Tesla gave it that name, and which is also exactly why they shouldn't have.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Joke

          so when you press the "autopilot" button an inflatable dummy spring in place?

      2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        "a plane's autopilot from the movies"

        Specifically, the one from Airplane.

    3. sarusa

      So you think Elon would actually learn anything from spending 5 seconds googling the topic? Because he's spent a decade selling 'Autopilot' as autonomy.

    4. DrXym Silver badge

      The average person on the street would imagine Tesla's "autopilot" to be an autonomous car of some sort. They aren't going to understand the nuances or limitations of such a system.

      Tesla were lying by omission by using the term and not educating people on the limitations. Even worse, they didn't even force the driver's attention to mitigate against consequences. So of *course* people started doing stopped paying attention to the roads to look at their phones, the pretty clouds and them BAM.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Yes, but legally that sort of thing doesn't usually matter - taking marketing hype seriously is considered to be unreasonable.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          This is broadly correct, for the US. "Puffery" – advertising or marketing claims that would be understood as hyperbole or subjective ("the best-tasting floor polish money can buy!") by a reasonable consumer of ordinary knowledge – are not actionable under deceptive-advertising laws.

          That said, there's nothing to stop the DoJ from pursuing charges; then it falls on Tesla to settle (no doubt with no admission of guilt) or try their luck in court.

          And the DoJ could go after Musk personally, based on the public claims he made about Autopilot on Twitter and the like, where he was not acting in his capacity as an officer of the corporation.

        2. nautica Bronze badge

          ...would have added an icon for idiocy/lunacy/stupidity, but there's not one.

          ...perhaps in the rest of the world, but in the good ol' U-S-of-A, NOT taking marketing hype seriously is tantamount to being considered un-American...or, rather, "un-ahMURRican", as approximately half the population would say.

          "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."--Winston Churchill

          "Think of how stupid the average person is; now realize half of them are stupider than that.”--George Carlin

        3. nautica Bronze badge

          ...would have added an icon for idiocy/lunacy, but there's not one.

          ...perhaps in the rest of the world, but in the good ol' U-S-of-A, NOT taking marketing hype seriously is tantamount to being considered un-American...or, rather, "un-aMURRican", as approximately half the population would say.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cybertruck on Mars

    Any day now…

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Cybertruck on Mars

      Diggin' a tunnel for the Mars Hyperloop.

  3. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
    Meh

    Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

    What's up with people these days? I still love driving around in my manual shift mode of transport. I suppose having your hands free while the Tesla drives itself is that you can use your smartphone to take pictures as it crashes into other things. There's that.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

      My daily driver is a manual with no automation, however when I have the additional facilities on hire cars I'll use them when appropriate.

      Cruise avoids the need to keep one eye on the speedo, adaptive cruise makes things even easier but requires specific knowledge and skills (i.e. if you're going to overtake the slower car in front pull out before your car starts to slow down to their speed).

      Lane following I could take or leave to be honest. I've used it and it frees up the mind to concentrate on what's happening around you but you still need to be fully aware.

      I think Ford/VW have done the right thing, L3 is as high as we're going to get for automation in general use on existing infrastructure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

        "Cruise avoids the need to keep one eye on the speedo"

        Not strictly necessary unless you intend to drive with the needle to the maximum line all the time (and that's not the safest way to drive). Thre's a host of other cues about speed -- the engine sound for the gear you're in, the rate at which roadside object pass and more. All that requires is attention to the act of driving, which is necessary to avoid accidents anyway.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

          Personally, I have a 20ish year old car with ye olde cruise control; which is to say that it maintains a steady speed at X MPH when set.

          If i'm driving multiple hours then I have a habit of getting to a safe following distance (~100-150 yards) yards behind an HGV that's on cruise control at 60MPH and then set mine. I get 55+MPG cruising at that speed, and as people rarely want to pull in tightly behind an HGV then you'll be able to just quietly sit in the lane and cruise on.

          Cruising at 70MPH meanwhile requires hundreds of lane and speed changes to the point it's hardly worth doing; the 10mph difference works out timewise as being 8 minutes per hour; it's also ~20% cheaper on fuel. Personally, i'd rather have the additional money than the 8 mins. Your view may differ.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

            I found that keeping to the speed limit as measured per GPS gives you a slightly higher speed than surrounding traffic, and on normal, not too busy roads that works for me (also because I don't HAVE to overtake, if I see something coming up behind me I'll nudge it down a bit to maintain safe driving distances). Driving with an ego is never a good thing.

            That said, when it comes to traffic queues you'll find me mostly in the outer lane for the exact reason you just mentioned: much quieter, and it generally flows better because for HGV drivers coming to a full stop is costly so they tend to be better and flexing distances to keep rolling, and as a bonus I can see MUCH better what is going on ahead. As I hold all driver licenses (I got bored in my youth) I also understand that keeping with the flow helps the HGV drivers - you'll never see me, for instance, invade the space in front of a laden HGV which it needs for braking. Yes, maybe I'll get to my destination a few minutes later because of it, but at least I get there and relatively stress free at that.

            I suspect you get a good MPG not just because of the lower speed (a trick most taxi drivers know as it gives less roll and wind resistance), but possibly also because you're in the vortex caused by the HGV in front of you. That's a theory, though, I don't know if someone has ever tested that but chaining of vehicles has long been the topic of many autonomous driving experiments. I think VW did something once where you had a string of cars automatically following each other closely, but the question becomes then who will accept taking the hit for others - you'd need some sort of change mechanism to go with it. In your case, the HGV has little choice :).

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

              I suspect you get a good MPG not just because of the lower speed (a trick most taxi drivers know as it gives less roll and wind resistance), but possibly also because you're in the vortex caused by the HGV in front of you.

              Cars just get progressively less efficient the faster that they are driven due to air resistance etc.

              As far as i'm aware you'd have to tailgate (eg <20 yards) to get any effect on fuel efficiency from the HGV. At 100 to 150 yards behind an HGV i'm exceedingly sceptical that there would be any effect.

              1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

                "As far as i'm aware you'd have to tailgate (eg <20 yards) to get any effect on fuel efficiency from the HGV. At 100 to 150 yards behind an HGV i'm exceedingly sceptical that there would be any effect."

                The latter part is correct. The former, less so. It depends on speed, because it's noticeable that at the closest safe distance - 2 second rule plus a bit - behind a big SUV doing 90, my fuel economy is better than doing 90 on my own. When pulling out into the next lane over, you can feel the instant deceleration as wind resistance increases. If an HGV were doing 90, you'd probably notice a benefit a safe distance behind.

                You can get a good idea of the wake size of different vehicles by looking at the tail of spray on rainy days.

              2. vtcodger Silver badge

                Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

                FWIW Mythbusters did a segment on drafting behind semi trailers back in 2007. They got an MPG improvement of 39% at a following distance of 10 feet (3 meters) at 55mph.. However, tailgating a truck at 10 feet while driving i\at highway speed is neither legal (even in Boston) nor safe. The didn't measure savings at a safe distance (150 feet), but they did try 100 feet and got an 11 percent improvement in fuel economy.

                https://www.autoblog.com/2007/10/28/mythbusters-drafting-10-feet-behind-a-big-rig-will-improve-mile/

                1. Peter2 Silver badge

                  Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

                  Which is interesting, but at my following distance of 150 yards is ~450 feet and i'm sceptical that at that distance you'll get any efficiency saving.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

            the 10mph difference works out timewise as being 8 minutes per hour

            A reasonable consideration for a one- or two-hour trip, provided you can safely go 10 MPH slower than most of the surrounding traffic. In the US that's often risky – even the semis are typically cruising at or above the posted limit if they can.

            For a 15-hour drive, where the difference means 17 hours instead, it's less appealing.

        2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

          I completely disagree. Take the M25, for example: the camera-enforced limit is 70, the so-slow-it's-dangerous speed is 60, so you aim to sit halfway between the two but even slight variation in speed takes you into either ticket or coffin territory.

          It also takes significantly more concentration to listen to engine revs etc. I was astonished how much more relaxing motorway driving became when I finally got a car new enough to have cruise control. I just sit there with my thumb on the speed controller and keep an eye on the gap to the vehicle ahead.

        3. HereAndGone

          Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

          "Engine Sound"?

          "Gear you're in"?

          I remember those from the old days, but my car doesn't have any of that.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

            I've had projects that went like that too...

        4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

          I've done long (15-18 hour) drives without cruise control, and I've done them with cruise control; and let me assure you, cruise control is much easier on the right ankle.

          And, frankly, maintaining a consistent speed at highway speeds, on a low-traffic highway, in a good-quality car, is not particularly easy. In my Volvo there's very little engine noise to begin with, and other external sounds are substantially diminished, so distinguishing between, say, 65 MPH and 75 MPH by ambient noise is not really feasible. Maybe you can gauge your speed precisely by parallax with roadside objects, but I can't – not to the degree that would keep me safe from speed traps, certainly.

          For what it's worth, I hate adaptive cruise control. In my opinion, cruise control is there to maintain the speed I set, not whatever speed the nitwit who pulled into my lane four car lengths ahead thinks I should be going.

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy

      "I still love driving around in my manual shift mode of transport."

      Well, that's really what the problem is. I like driving for fun. Not a big fan of driving to get somewhere, because that's usually boring. Especially for motorway trips and so-on I'd much rather read a book while the car does it for me. And for commuting, I'm looking forward to the day my self driving 'car' is actually a self driving mobile bathroom, so my morning shower etc can happen while the car negotiates traffic - it would give me an extra half hour in bed, I reckon.

  4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Abou time...

    It's about time Elon & Tesla were given a good kicking about their claims of the "autopilot" and "self driving" features on their cars.

  5. Alan Bourke

    Autononmous cars

    still a solution we are nowhere near having to a problem that doesn't exist.

    What's that, the problem is that American drivers are shit?

    Well I'd spend the money on training, enforcement and subsidising home working and public transpoiirt then.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Facepalm

      Re: Autononmous cars

      I think you mean "a problem that you don't personally have".

      The world is full of people who cannot drive, for any number of reasons - the young, the old, the blind, the drunk, and so on. Autonomous cars will bring huge benefits to all of those, without the high costs of the current solution, which involves having someone else dedicated to doing the driving.

      Then there's the question of utilisation. Most cars spend 95% or more of their time parked up, doing nothing. Hugely wasteful, and hugely disruptive in large towns and cities. Especially true of second cars in families. The utilisation of autonomous cars should be way higher than this, allowing the world to contain many fewer cars. This is a good thing.

      GJC

      1. Alan Bourke

        Re: Autononmous cars

        "The world is full of people who cannot drive, for any number of reasons - the young, the old, the blind, the drunk"

        The young can learn to drive. As for the old, blind and drunk, see point about funding public transport or subsidising taxis.

        "Most cars spend 95% or more of their time parked up, doing nothing."

        See point about public transport and home working.

        1. Geoff Campbell
          Facepalm

          Re: Autononmous cars

          Those below 17 (in the UK) cannot learn to drive on the roads. As for public transport, have you actually tried, say, food shopping using a bus? It's a dreadful experience.

          GJC

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            Re: Autononmous cars

            Get an uber/taxi then if you're too good for the bus.

            1. Geoff Campbell
              Boffin

              Re: Autononmous cars

              To repeat: "without the high costs of the current solution, which involves having someone else dedicated to doing the driving."

              Comprehension not your strong suit, I guess?

              GJC

              1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
                Trollface

                Re: Autononmous cars

                "Comprehension not your strong suit, I guess?"

                I wonder if their behaviour on the roads is any better than their behaviour in forums...?

              2. TimMaher Silver badge
                Trollface

                Re: Someone else

                Jacob Rees-Mogg has a chauffeur?

              3. DrXym Silver badge

                Re: Autononmous cars

                And you think this imaginary self driving car won't be high cost if/whenever it appeared?

                1. Geoff Campbell
                  Terminator

                  Re: Autononmous cars

                  If the self-driving problem gets solved, the per-mile cost of autonomous cars as taxis will become cheaper than that of human-driven taxis, yes. It'll take a little while, sure - they will be playthings for the well-off, initially. That's how it works.

                  GJC

              4. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: Autononmous cars

                So you want everybody to BUY a car when it is far cheaper to RENT one, with a driver if needed, for the VERY FEW occasions where you can't use public transportation?

                1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                  Re: Autononmous cars

                  To be fair, nothing says autonomous vehicles couldn't be rented, and indeed we already have such on offer in some places.

                  So it's really a contest between "vehicle driven by a person that you own or rent" and "vehicle driven by a machine that you own or rent". I personally find the latter concept tiresome, but I admit arguments can be made for it. I'm not yet convinced they're compelling.

                  1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                    Re: Autononmous cars

                    A non-autonomous rental car can't drive itself away from where it drops me off and go to where someone else needs it, that's the point.

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Autononmous cars

        Autonomous vehicles that can haul your ass home without any intervention are still a long way off. As demonstrated by "full self drive" which can barely drive properly in normal road conditions under human supervision without doing something alarming.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Autonomous cars

        Given my car experiences when the kids were growing up I would not want to inflict what they do to a car on anyone else :).

        I see that a lot with rentals (whose prices also have gone up dramatically), sometimes you get one that hasn't had the cleaning it needs. Normally I'll hand that straight back but it depends on how much time I have.

      4. Chris Roberts

        Re: Autononmous cars

        If and when we have autonomous 'taxis' it will be interesting to see how they are priced. I suspect it will be at least demand based, I do wonder if a vehicle on the way to you might be reassigned if a better/more profitable trip comes up. You might then get an alert with the offer to accept a higher charge to still get the same pickup time or take a new later slot.

        Definitely seen this idea in fiction at least.

        1. Geoff Campbell
          Terminator

          Re: Autononmous cars

          And then, at the other end of the market, you could choose to use a multi-occupancy taxi that would not necessarily take the most direct route, in exchange for a lower cost. Effectively a small free-roaming bus, but one that picked you up and dropped you off exactly where you wanted to be, rather than 15 minutes walk away.

          There's lots of possibilities. Some might happen, some won't. We'll see.

          GJC

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Autononmous cars

            None of this requires automation, however. We could do it all now with human drivers. We haven't, for the most part. So why would autonomous vehicles make it happen? What's the economic driver?

  6. sarusa
    FAIL

    About time.

    Elon's bloviating about autopilot were 100% fraudluent and completely undoable with the technology he had and even more undoable with the technology he has now since he's stripped every sensor but cameras from Tesla's cars. Tesla's 'autopilot' and 'self driving' have been sold for years by Musk as hands off, let the car do it - the term 'autopilot' entirely implies that. But his simple DNN can never deliver it.

    So yes, it was entirely fraudulent and he should be prosecuted for it.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: About time.

      Last week, Musk said Tesla would soon release an upgraded version of “full self-driving” software, allowing customers to travel “to your work, your friend’s house, to the grocery store without you touching the wheel”

      As far back as 2016 Musk described it as “probably better” than a human driver.

      A video currently on the company’s website says: “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself.”

      Damned by his own mouth - nothing new there for him.

      See also:

      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/oct/26/tesla-criminal-investigation-self-driving-claims-sources

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: About time.

        While I completely agree that Musk is bullshitting, that doesn't constitute fraud. The law generally says anyone who believes him is an idiot. I hope this goes to court and Musk's lawyers have to say exactly that in defence :)

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: About time.

          The US Congress passed a law stating that anybody that believes EM is an idiot?

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: About time.

            No. That's not how it works. There is precedent about believing in hype, as explained elsewhere in the thread.

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: About time.

      "it was entirely fraudulent and he should be prosecuted for it."

      False claims aren't necessarily fraudulent. Marketing hype isn't fraud, generally. It would be pretty unusual, legally speaking, if Tesla have actually managed to cross that line.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: About time.

        You can get away with a bit of exaggeration and hyperbole, but outright lies or misrepresentation is trickier to justify.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: About time.

          True, but bear in mind the vehicle is called an auto-mobile. It's a pretty high bar to get over.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: About time.

            "auto-mobile" and "auto-pilot" have very different meanings.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: About time.

              Yes. You must be fun at parties.

  7. hammarbtyp

    Reality meets hype

    Despite the money spent, they still cannot solve the fundamental problem of how a A.I vehicle solves real life issues such as whether to avoid a person by crashing the car and other moral dilemmas (a.k.a. the trolley bus problem). This is because what is touted as A.I isn't. It is excellent set of pattern recognition algorithms tied to simple decision tree. The problem is it can only deal with issues thought up by the designers and do not handle the variability of real the real world. This is where wetware still is superior to such systems

    One solution suggested is that the A.I. does the easy stuff such as managing the vehicle on things like motorways and then give control back to the driver in situations outside its parameters. Unfortunately we have already seen issues where this can go horrible wrong. An air France flight from Brazil was on autopilot (much easier on an aircraft since you don't meet many people at 20,000 ft). The air speed sensors had frozen up causing an issue the autopilot was not designed to handle so it requested the pilot take control. The pilot did, misread the situation, panicked, tried to pull the nose up of a already climbing aircraft, stalled it and crashed it. The vehicle equivalent would be you happily cruising along the motorway in A.I mode, half asleep, because you have nothing to do. The A.I then telling you of some issue, you waking up, assessing the situation in a second and making a calm valid response. Multiply that situation a million times and we have potential disaster on our hands

    However hopefully some of the technology will go to improve driver augmentation. These systems have an advantage that they are always on and alert, but they need to work with the driver not be in control.

    As for Tesla, it is another example where the hype has come up with the realities and while I am all for moonshot projects, there has to be honesty as to what is achievable

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Reality meets hype

      One solution suggested is that the A.I. does the easy stuff such as managing the vehicle on things like motorways and then give control back to the driver

      In theory that sounds fine but in practice there's an unsurmountable problem - delay - by the time a driver has noticed the car want's them to take over and then analysed the situation a couple of seconds will have passed and the problem will probably have resolved itself, probably by crashing.

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Reality meets hype

      "It is excellent set of pattern recognition algorithms tied to simple decision tree"

      Or not so excellent pattern recognition algorithms? There have been numerous reports (including accident reports) of the "AI" misinterpreting things ranging from low bed lorries as bridges to off ramp intersection markings as lanes, and also failures to recognise (consequently crashing into) stationary obstructions ranging from police cars to (in one case) a large black and yellow chevroned crash barrier end marker.

      The so far (and probably permanently) insoluble problem is that the "AI" can't understand anything (that is: extrapolate what it detects to its potential implications more than one stage away). As that's what the human brain does as a matter of course, there's a huge difference between the kinds of "intelligence".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reality meets hype

      One solution suggested is that the A.I. does the easy stuff such as managing the vehicle on things like motorways and then give control back to the driver in situations outside its parameters.

      Lane keeping and adaptive cruise control already create attention issues with drivers, AI driving will only make that worse because when the AI is going to ask for attention it means you're already in a sticky situation. To build up situational awareness from scratch takes minutes you don't have, and if you're maintaining situaltional awareness constantly you don't really need an AI.

      I'm all for driver assist system where they make sense (but I am absolutely against mandating that these things are by default on, whoever made that law should be sacked IMHO), but whoever has been selling this as an argument to stop paying attention deserves all the legal problems that can be thrown at them.

  8. Def Silver badge

    Selective data reporting is selective

    From the linked article: ...the conclusion of the first round of data it began gathering last year of vehicle crashes involving level 2 ADAS technology such as Tesla Autopilot. Of the 394 accidents analyzed, 270 involved Teslas with Autopilot engaged.

    In 2021 there were nearly 43,000 car crash fatalities in the US. I have no idea how many non-fatal accidents there were, but the Tesla numbers are a mathematical rounding error in comparison.

    I'm not saying I agree with Tesla's outrageous marketing claims in any way, but bandying numbers around out of context to make them look worse than they actually are is just sloppy journalism.

    And how many accidents were avoided because of Autopilot? That, to me, would be a far more interesting statistic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Selective data reporting is selective

      Well, Tesla do publish some data (although there doesn't seem to be any for 2022 - not sure if they have stopped) but the last batch from 2021Q4 is:

      In the 4th quarter, we recorded one crash for every 4.31 million miles driven in which drivers were using Autopilot technology (Autosteer and active safety features). For drivers who were not using Autopilot technology (no Autosteer and active safety features), we recorded one crash for every 1.59 million miles driven. By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 484,000 miles.

      from: https://www.tesla.com/VehicleSafetyReport

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Selective data reporting is selective

      Tesla numbers are a mathematical rounding error in comparison.

      Of the about 300 million cars in America only about 1 million are Teslas. So Teslas are less than 0.4% of cars in America.

      Of course they will contribute a tiny value to the total, the question is is the total a) disproportionate and b) involve "autopilot".

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Selective data reporting is selective

        The crash rate for vehicles on 'autopilot' is lower than the average rate in the US for human drivers. That is a very low bar to get over, though.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: Selective data reporting is selective

          Those are figures from Tesla - not a reliable source.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: Selective data reporting is selective

            Not as far as I'm aware, no. I guess maybe the total mileage on autopilot comes from Tesla, but afaik it comes from submissions to regulators under penalty of perjury, so they would be unlikely to lie - massage the figures a little, sure, but not outright lie. We can be fairly confident that as a ballpark figure it's right, and ballpark figures are all we're dealing with when it comes to global averages too.

            It isn't an implausible result, so I don't think there's any need for a great deal of skepticism here. It isn't very hard to do better than the average untrained driver set loose on the roads, which is why we don't use that as the standard that must be reached.

    3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Selective data reporting is selective

      The thing about the current generation of semi-self-driving cars that isn't usually mentioned is that they are already significantly safer than the average human driver, based on a global average. They are safer than the average US driver too. Not as safe as the average driver in the handful of countries around the world that have proper driving tests.

      Really all this says is that the standard of human driving is so absurdly low that it's not hard to do better.

  9. jollyboyspecial Bronze badge

    I honestly think that people like Musk don't really believe the real world exists. They seem to think that ordinary folks in the real world are just some sort of toy for them to play with and of course make money out of.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Not just Musk

      "They seem to think that ordinary folks in the real world are just some sort of toy for them to play with"

      See this from the UK Guardian newspaper.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not just Musk

        Ah yes, but that article is just people putting kids in front of their car to see if the screenwipers come on automatically.

        Because braking it doesn't..

    2. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Well that idiot has said that he thinks we're living in a computer simulation, so none of this is real to him

  10. EricB123 Bronze badge

    Please Simplify all the Levels Crap

    To me, there are only two methods of automated driving. Say lane change and anti-tailgating assistance, and FULL AUTOMONOUS DRIVING. By the time an unattended driver is alerted something is wrong to the reaction time for the driver to take command a crash happens.

    The consumer is obviously confused by all this, and the auto companies (and without a doubt some politicians) are taking advantage of all of this..

    1. Chris Roberts

      Re: Please Simplify all the Levels Crap

      The Tesla cameras have a range of 250m apparently, which is only 8 seconds at 70mph, however I don't think they start allowing for changes that far away unless they are static obstruction. Even then, as you say, how long will it take the car to decide it cannot cope with something that it has seen and let the driver know? Even driving manually normal drivers can take two or three seconds to notice and react to changes on a motorway, if they are just letting the car drive it could be longer still. Then they will need to work out what the car is reporting and finally react to it. As you say, partial autonomous driving is not a great idea.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Please Simplify all the Levels Crap

        "I don't think they start allowing for changes that far away unless they are static obstruction"

        Actually, they seem exceptionally bad at recognising static obstructions. There are numerous accident reports of teslas driving straight into them, and at least one of a tesla actively accelerating into one.

  11. Red Ted
    FAIL

    Sorry Mate I Didn't See You

    There also seems to be a number of cases of Tesla driving in to the back of motorcycles.

    Here at CNN and I think there's been another more recently.

  12. nautica Bronze badge
    Stop

    Any day now; just wait for it...

    Time for Musk to invoke that 'one-liner' (which all the other sociopaths of the world have learned from the US's Sociopath-In-Chief):

    "POLITICAL WITCH-HUNT !!

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Any day now; just wait for it...

      Hey, it is the appropriate season to hunt witches!

      Does anyone have a duck?

  13. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

    Unlikely to be any charges

    As much as I dislike Tesla's hype machine, it seems very unlikely there is anything that can be successfully prosecuted. It is generally OK to make all kinds of outlandish claims in advertising.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlill_v_Carbolic_Smoke_Ball_Co

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puffery#Federal_Trade_Commission_definition

    That said, I hope it goes to court. The defence would be fun - pretty sure they'd argue no-one in their right mind should take any of Musk's claim's seriously, and possibly also that 'full self driving' refers to Tesla owners fully having to drive themselves...

  14. Herring`

    Stupid idea

    Stupid because other people may well get hurt, but how about tying up Musk, throwing him in the back of one of his cars and setting it off on "full self driving" into busy motorway traffic? Let's see just how much faith he has in his products

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Stupid idea

      That doesn't really work given the rate of crashes even when the system is abused. Ignoring the need to charge the car, he'd likely starve or die of thirst, and then the corpse would liquify, well before a crash happened.

      It's a win for humanity either way, but I'm not sure it would demonstrate a lot about the cars.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: Stupid idea

        I'd improve the idea a little: put the car on top of a Space-X rocket, so he won't liquefy.

        If the car manages to crash into any other car after leaving Earth orbit, then the proportion of Tesla cars involved in accidents in space will be around 100%.

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