back to article Germans beat Tesla to autonomous L3 driving in the Golden State

Mercedes-Benz scored another self-driving victory, and on Tesla's former home turf, after being granted the first authorization in the state of California "to sell or lease vehicles with an automated driving system to the public," albeit with very strict restrictions. The permission slip was granted for Mercedes-Benz's DRIVE …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only up to 40 mph on the highway where everyone else is driving at 75 mph?

    It can only operate during the day on certain limited roads, and only at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. The system will be usable on California highways in the Bay Area, Central Valley, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego, as well as on Interstate 15 between southern California and Nevada,

    1. First Light

      Re: Only up to 40 mph on the highway where everyone else is driving at 75 mph?

      Yes, a sensible idea! If after a few years, it works really well, the restrictions can be relaxed. This type of driving will be a gradual development, not a "miracle" rush-job.

      For other parts of the world not blessed with California's semi-arid conditions, even greater restrictions will be necessary. For example, tropical countries during monsoon, rainy parts of Ireland (i.e. most of it) etc.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Only up to 40 mph on the highway where everyone else is driving at 75 mph?

      I was under the impression from residents of those areas that post here, getting up as fast as 40mph, especially during rush hour, is something they'd quite like to be able to do :-)

    3. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      Re: Only up to 40 mph on the highway where everyone else is driving at 75 mph?

      75MPH? When I drove through socal (this was about 20 years ago though), the SLOW lane was going closer to 100MPH -- I had my 1985 Chevy Celebrity flat to the floor basically from San Diego to LA and I was holding up traffic, it was the one part of my trip where I was like "damn, I could use another 50HP or so"... that car used a big, lazy 2.5L 4 cylinder engine that was like a 302 cubic inch (5.0L) V8 cut in half at the V to make 82HP and about 130 footpounds of torque. Gotta love US's odd power units. It had throttle body injection that was clearly just a carburetor with all the passages plugged up and an injector stuck above the throttle plate.). I could hear (some) vehicles in lane 3 (out of 6) hitting the 110MPH speed governors (GM, at least, after people started having tire blowouts at 120+MPH and then suing them for it, began putting speed governors based on the speed rating of the tires the car shipped with.) Of course, *in* LA it turned into gridlock and was doing more like 0-15MPH.

      I wondered that too though -- what are they nuts, authorizing a vehicle to autodrive at 40MPH on roads with a 75MPH speed limit where traffic is probably going far faster? No thanks!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Only up to 40 mph on the highway where everyone else is driving at 75 mph?

        I'm not aware of 75 mph speed limits in California. And I went from SF to LA to SD 10 years ago, the speed got fast (for California, I'm used to 130 kph), but nowhere near 100 mph. More like 70-75 for a 65 limit.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Only up to 40 mph on the highway where everyone else is driving at 75 mph?

          MPH may stand for millimeter-per-hour...

          1. MrDamage Silver badge

            Re: Only up to 40 mph on the highway where everyone else is driving at 75 mph?

            Mini-miles. You won't catch the yanks using metric.

    4. WoodlessStickler

      Re: Only up to 40 mph on the highway where everyone else is driving at 75 mph?

      Elsewhere (https://www.motortrend.com/news/mercedes-benz-drive-pilot-eqs-autonomous-driverless-first-drive-review/), Gregor Kugelmann, Mercedes Drive Pilot Senior Development Manager explained:

      > For the lane change, which will be mandatory if you want to travel at more than 37 mph, we need to add some long-range radars at the rear of the car, to be sure the system can sense overtaking vehicles on both sides of the car before you go into a really safe lane change.

      These additional sensors are not yet present in their cars. Having worked on the safety case at a competitor for more than 3 years, I'm impressed how far this has progressed and how reasonable their roadmap is. Personally, I'd try to squeeze those radars into the external rear vision mirrors rather than the back of the car.

  2. Nifty Silver badge

    Now you see, these German cars know how to follow orders.

  3. 45RPM Silver badge

    This is what happens when grown ups run the company, and focus on building cars rather than adding whoopie cushions to them.

    I’m not keen on Mercedes myself, but given the choice between that and a Tesla, sign me up for a three pointed star.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mercedes has been recently following Tesla's fashion of putting huge touch screens everywhere, which I'm not keen on.

      1. Nifty Silver badge

        Know the feeling. I'll want an authentic gearstick on mine to stir, with some sound effects. While the EVs auto transmission continues blythely on.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE: Know the feeling.

          There's your problem with touch screen controls then.

        2. Ken G Silver badge
          Meh

          Abarth/Fiat 500e

          They've put big bass speakers in for exhaust sounds.

    2. Nuff Said

      Personally, I would see a driver-controlled whoopie cushion as a huge value-add, an extra I would pay good money for.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      They've also been collecting data from all their cars around the world for at least ten years. And they part own the Here navigation system.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Joke

        so, how many people are using the whoopee cushion per day per mile?

  4. bazza Silver badge

    It doesn't matter what SAE level Tesla's system actually is, or is not. There's plenty of people who treat it as SAE level 5...

    Well done Merc. Although SAE 3 still feels fundamentally pointless to me...

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      And the evidence suggests that it's actually capable of level 5 behaviour an astonishing amount of the time - it's clearly beyond L2, whatever the certification says.

      No, it's not time to surrender licenses and hand over to the computers yet, but that doesn't stop me being impressed with the amount of driving FSD *is* capable of - particularly when it's capable of that on a wide variety of roads and in a good variety of situations.

      As someone with a disability - even L2/L3 are massively valuable.

      The reduction in cognitive load that they provide make driving for any significant length of time possible. I was reminded of that very strongly over the weekend, because the van I hired for Saturday didn't have the assistance features I used constantly - and driving less than 200 miles completely wiped me out for the remainder of the Saturday and all Sunday (I'm mostly recovered today). With the driver aids I can drive 300 miles and still be able to function in the evening, and the next day.

  5. SJA

    In Germany the Mercedes L3 is a traffic jam autopilot. Only during the day, on high resolution mapped streets, with a car in front of you that the Mercedes can follow, up to 40mph and only on the highway. It does not make sense for Tesla to go for L3 certification. They want L5 directly - and looking at the latest FSD Beta videos by Tesla drivers it's not that far off. But the last 5% are the hardest to achieve.

    1. Grunchy Silver badge

      Thunderf00t quotes some industry experts who characterize Tesla “full-self-driving” as somewhat of an industry joke. Moreover he’s now claiming all the Musk enterprises are techno-Ponzi schemes that will be bankrupted by June 2028, this on the eve of Musk being declared world’s richest human again.

      https://youtu.be/vYURUiOjZSw

      (It’s like, some people you’re never going to please.. !)

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Are you referring to his brilliant idea of tunnels that require lifts or hyperloops ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm giving you a thumbs up with the assumption that you are explaining how "40 mph" and "freeway" work together - and it is only in a traffic jam. That makes sense. And if the traffic picks up speed, it wakes the driver up or turns off their game or entertainment.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        My car does the traffic jam self driving thing very well, and it’s not level 3, so I think there must be more to it,

        1. SJA

          One would think so there is more behind it. I couldn't find an article that lists all the prerquisites but here's one that lists a few of them:

          https://www.next-mobility.de/drive-pilot-von-mercedes-paradigmenwechsel-wie-die-mondlandung-a-1104283/

          "Nur auf Autobahnen und nur bis 60 km/h.

          Es werden keine Spurwechsel getätigt, die Temperatur muss über vier Grad liegen, die Sicht muss gut sein. Also Tageslicht, keine Dämmerung, keine Tunnel, kein Regen oder Schneefall."

          Translate:

          "Only on the highway and only up to 60 km/h

          No lange changes, temperature must be above 4°C, sight must be good. Also required is day light, no twilight, no tunnel, no rain or snow".

          Some other lists also there must be a car in front of you, the lane marking must be clearly visible. It must not be on a construction area (because different lane markings are used then).... The real achievement of Mercedes is not the ability of their DrivePilot but getting the legal approval of it.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "The real achievement of Mercedes is not the ability of their DrivePilot but getting the legal approval of it."

            I wonder if that's a corporate attitude thing more than anything else? ie the German company understands the laws and their cars capabilities and so accept the restrictions placed on them while the system proves itself. Meanwhile, Musk and other "disrupters" simply won't or can't accept that they are less than perfect and make claims and demands or just simply ignore the rules until something breaks and someone dies.

          2. Nifty Silver badge

            "I couldn't find an article that lists all the prerquisites but here's one that lists a few of them..."

            It didn't mention that the stars must be aligned and a shaft of sunlight shall cut straight across the centre of Stonehenge.

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      I haven't driven in either California or Germany for a great many years. But I think a vehicle going only 40mph(60kph) will be a lot more acceptable on the Autobahn than on America's Interstates. My recollection is that a lot of the fuel efficient vehicles in Germany couldn't travel much faster than that going uphill anyway so German drivers are used to a lane of slow traffic. Things could have changed of course. That was a long time ago. I have trouble envisioning a 40mph vehicle being regarded as anything other than a damned nuisance by most Americans.

      BTW, the default minimum sustained speed on Interstate highways is 45mph(72 kph). But states can change that.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        @vtcodger

        You must have different autobahn experiences to me, something only doing 40 MPH will be ludicrously slow compared to typical speeds (assuming situations where traffic is flowing freely not "traffic jams") - even people driving small engine cars were pretty much flooring it.

      2. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

        "My recollection is that a lot of the fuel efficient vehicles in Germany couldn't travel much faster than that going uphill anyway so German drivers are used to a lane of slow traffic" "I have trouble envisioning a 40mph vehicle being regarded as anything other than a damned nuisance by most Americans."

        Indeed. Have to admit it was 20 years ago, but when I drove through socal, *in* LA it was gridlock and I was doing 0-15MPH. San Diego to LA? I was doing about 95-105MPH in the slow lane and I was holding up traffic (1985 Chevy Celebrity -- that was the one part of my cross-country trip where I was like "Wow I could really do with about 50 more horsepower"). Throttle to the floor, slower up hills and faster on the flat... speed estimated because that car had that stupid 85MPH speedo so at about 95 the needle would disappear into the dashboard. Seriously, 6 lanes and I could hear some vehicles in lane 3 bouncing off their 110MPH speed limiters, 4-6 appeared to be doing closer to 150.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Yes, quite similar experiences on the 5 and the 15 between SD and LA. The only difference was that the 15 got more clogged up with big semis and a *lot* more commuting traffic and slowed down a lot when you got closer to the likes of Temecula and further north, while the 5 was just non-stop crazy speed regardless of whether it was Encinitas, Carlsbad or the more clogged parts of the OC (Aliso Viejo, Laguna, Irvine). The 405 between the OC and north of LA on the other hand in rush hour times is hell on earth - Take surface roads to where you need to go instead, you'll make more progress.

          I imagine that the Mercedes L3 stuff (when eventually approved for dawn/dusk) will eventually come into its own on the 91 between Riverside and the coast... It being the major highway on which you could probably *walk* to work quicker during rush hour than drive... Exception is that rush hour starts at 5am and ends maybe at 9 or 10, and then starts again at 3pm and ends at around 8, if not later.

      3. Nifty Silver badge

        "I haven't driven in either California or Germany for a great many years... a vehicle going only 40mph(60kph) would be a lot more acceptable on the Autobahn than on America's Interstates"

        Germany's Autobahnen still have sections without a hard speed limit. Attempts to do away with these sections have failed due to a combo of powerful auto industry lobby groups and a subsection of German motorists taking unlimited speed (if you can afford it) as an article of faith, rather analogously to US gun laws.

        So while Germans are generally rule followers, if a proud supercar owner knows his law then (as I often saw driving in Germany) you'll be gently overtaking a slower vehicle and notice a dot in the rearview. 3 seconds later you'll have a horn-blaring BMW or whatnot Araldited to your rear bumper, expecting you to move over sharpish, because 'He Is In The Right '. This while you're now parallel with the artic that you're overtaking.

        Germany is a country where they passed a law banning tailgating and thoroughly enforced it with a fleet of unmarked patrol cars. Wonder how many other countries had to do that.

        In the US, admittedly some decades later, cars waft across all available lanes, casually under or overtaking. I don't think I've seen a display of big ego on US interstates in the couple of thousands of miles I drove on them.

        The odds are even on whether slow moving autonomous vehicles would be better tolerated in Germany or the US. It may in the end depend on the number of lawyers per square km.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          The car lobby's power in Germany has to be seen to be believed. A general speed limit would definitely reduce emissions and the amount of fuel we have to import from dodgy regimes. It would almost certainly reduce motorway accidents and probably also increase average journey times (traffic throughflow correlates inversely with speed because of the distance between vehicles). In towns, it is illegal for councils to set general speed limits, many would like to have 30 km throughout the town. But the traffic ministry won't let them. This means that you can easily have different speed limits on the same road with the same insensity of buildings.

          We have also have far too many, too heavy lorries on the roads. The roads can't take 40 tonners, so roadworks are more frequent, and it's even worse on the bridges. There aren't enough parking spaces for the lorries and there aren't even enough drivers (more and more are in from central Asia or even further abroad) and many are forced to live for months out of their cabs. Makes a mockery of Germany's much vaunted ecological and labour claims.

      4. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Most Autobahns are faster roads

        Then anything in the US - aside from closed racetracks, of course.

        While some of them do have speed limits, most are unlimited with a "suggestion" of ~80mph.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Most Autobahns are faster roads

          The majority of Germany's motorway network now has speed limits but these vary and can be very confusing. I know a few stretches where there aren't any but they're only going to get you to the next traffic jam faster!

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

            Re: Most Autobahns are faster roads

            The worst thing is to have a stretch with unlimited speed, just before a bridge where there is a max speed of 100 km/h...

            You need good eyes to note the change soon enough to be able to brake...

  6. Sven Coenye
    Coat

    We've asked Tesla for comment, but haven't heard back.

    Maybe include a laxative emoji in the follow-up request?

    Mine's the one with the Miralax in the pocket...

  7. Kev99 Silver badge

    Drastic error in story. A "Merc" is either a discontinued vehicle by Ford, an outboard moat engine, a someone working for the likes of the Wagner Group. The correct diminutive is "Benz". Your usage implies all Volkswagens are Beetles, all FIATs are 124s, or, heaven forbid, luxury automobiles from Crewe are "Rolls", not "Royces".

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Not really, I've heard Mercedes referred to as Mercs for years. And, BMWs are properly referred to as BMs. Because the are BMs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        BMWs

        They're Beamers, surely.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: BMWs

          In German: "Bring mich zur Werkstatt" (Take to me to the garage) because they have a reputation for unreliability. But that could also be due to the boy racers preferring them.

    2. Tim99 Silver badge

      When I lived in Derby people who worked at R-R did indeed call it "Royce's" - Probably because Royce was the engineer and Rolls was the distributer/salesman.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        But the car is commonly known as a Rolls or more often a “roller”.

    3. Zack Mollusc

      Benz schmenz

      Whether or not that is common parlance in your particular hamlet, if I were buying a luxury car, I would much prefer a Guar or a Tley. Perhaps even an Rtin.

      1. khjohansen
        Devil

        Re: Benz schmenz

        JAaaAAaaG, surely ;>

    4. Kevin Johnston

      Referring to a Mercedez Benz as a 'Benz' must cause all manner of confusion when someone drives by in a Daimler-Benz. From memory the only country which does not call them a 'Merc' is the USofA so under the 'World Series doctrine' that must mean all the other countries are wrong.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        So, France is right to call them "Benz"?

        As here...

    5. ske1fr

      Nope

      Otherwise I cannot label the right lane speed freaks Berks In Mercs.

    6. that one in the corner Silver badge

      A "Merc" is ... an outboard moat engine

      Whilst an outboard moat engine is okay on the motorway (you are allowed to straddle two lanes to reduce sloshing) I prefer an old fashioned motor bailey around town for ease of parking.

      Although the constant nattering in the back is a distraction; please, keep down the chat, Elaine.

    7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      FWIW the Daimler brand is increasingly used for the trucks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "FWIW the Daimler brand is increasingly used for the trucks."

        Yep. Daimler split into two companies about a year ago. Cars went one way, trucks & busses the other. The star and the Mercedes nameplate is still used on the truck/bus side, especially in Europe, at least for now. NAFTA has Freightliner and Western Star as their big brands (plus Thomasbuilt busses).

        IT angle: Daimler has one of the OG class-A networks (53.0.0.0/8 IIRC). Splitting IT and all the othe back office stuff is a pretty heavy lift, and still ongoing.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Full Self Deceiving

    The Muskophiles still believe in their Techno-King.

    These German guys, what would they know?

    /s

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Full Self Deceiving

      Don't they know Musk invented the car?

  9. Fabrizio
    Happy

    The man in the high castle

    the phrase "With the Germans invading California and Nevada," made me think of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_in_the_High_Castle

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: The man in the high castle

      Made me think of when the Germans took over the nuclear power station in The Sampson’s.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: The man in the high castle

        It made me think of technologically advanced Germans invading the USA from their secret base on the Moon :-)

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: their secret base on the Moon

          Hardly secret... It is right in the sights of the Musk rocket. Soon to be an ex-base.

          The Tesla/Musk cult will not listen to any crit of their dear leader. Tesla tech is always 10 years ahead of everyone else... according to the cult.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: their secret base on the Moon

            Wait, does that mean they believe Musk is going to deliver nuclear fusion as well then?

            Oh no, wait, that's 30 years. Forget I asked.

            :)

  10. Rikki Tikki Bronze badge

    Whatever

    I'm currently in Surabaya*, and I'll believe in FSD, whether Tesla, Mercedes, or whatever when it can cope with Indonesian traffic chaos without running over the brave guys who stand in the middle of intersections acting as unofficial traffic controllers° in the hope of earning a few coins in tips.

    *although for some reason, Google is placing me in Saltford, between Bristol and Bath, which makes it damn hard to order a GoCar.

    °yes, what they do is quite possibly illegal, but without them, the traffic probably wouldn't flow at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whatever

      Given that it STILL cannot even park properly (something that practically every other car manufacturer has now managed for years) I would hesitate to trust it with anything more complicated that involves actually moving traffic and substantial higher odds at human injury.

      Before someone remarks that it 'only has cameras' - well (a) Musk (very loudly, as always) decided that that was all it would need, a decision he's now finally coming back from and (b) if it doesn't work on a particular model they should not offer to install it on that car for use on the public road.

      Companies like Mercedes, VW/Audi en I think BMW as well DO have self driving systems working (in some cases more than a decade ago but they follow the traditional path of testing thoroughly before they let something lose on the road instead of using other road users as unwitting guinea pigs.

      At present, every Tesla you see on the road is potentially a lethal danger to its surroundings - you don't know if it has FSD installed and enabled and apparently it crashes a LOT more often than Musk wants you to believe. Not that you should believe anything Musk states because he believes that the good outweighs the harm - not really the best attitude for someone who controls how cars weighing more than two tonnes and can accellerate at ludicrous speeds behave on public roads..

      1. SJA

        Re: Whatever

        Autopilot != FSD

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whatever

          > Autopilot != FSD

          Someone should print that on a ball cap and make Musk wear it in every public appearance.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Whatever

            or

            Someone should print that on a Trump 2024 RED ball cap and make Musk wear it in every public appearance

            There fixed it for you.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Whatever

              Don't forget a big "made in China" tag

      2. alecbaldwinuro

        Re: Whatever

        FSD in current state is about 4x safer than human drivers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whatever

          Don't trust everything Tesla tells you (as a matter of fact, don't trust anything from them at all, least of all any public statements). This may help. There's also the neat trick that Autopilot and FSD quickly hand off to the driver when things get too tricky or when it has screwed up, and Tesla naturally considers the fact that it has just created a dangerous situation leading to an accident no longer their problem then - now it's the driver's fault.

          So I'd take any statistics from Tesla with a large quantity of salt.

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Whatever

      I'll let my life into the pseudo-pods of a FSD system when said system will be able to read the laws pertaining to traffic regulation for Italy, "understand" them, and then manage to make 5 km without an accident and without having Italians honking because it doesn't follow the informal rules...

  11. mpi Silver badge

    Instead of trying to make self driving cars better...

    ...we should be worried about how to reduce the number of cars as much as possible.

    It should be clear by now, that individual traffic has horrible scaling. Anyone who doubts that, should take a look at how much of our urban "living-space" is actually "car-space".

    This idea has been let go on for so long that this invasion of our living space is now normalized to the point where school children learn that most of the public space is reserved for cars. They learn that this is normal, and don't ever question that, just stay on your ever smaller slice of walkway while we build 3, no 4, no 6, no 8 lane streets rights through the middle of the places where people are supposed to live, and devote ever more prime real estate to parking lots. Oh did I mention that lots of areas don't even have walkways any more? What, "walking" through suburbs? With my feet? What a strange idea. Next you want me to be able to shop for groceries within walking distance of my house instead of having to drive for 20 minutes in each direction.

    And that is just the wasted space. We haven't even mentioned the absurd energy inefficency of moving 2t vehicles to transport one 80kg person. It doesn't matter if they are powered by gasoline, hydrogen, batteries or chicken farts, it is a giant waste of power that could be put to better use elsewhere.

    Coming back to the scaling problem, individual trafficis like trying to run the internet not by using data centers, but by relying on every resource being served from home computers connected via intermittent dial up modems. Sure, it would work somewhat, but it would also be horribly slow, inefficient, and forget about building really big things with it.

    The sooner we give up on this nonsense, and divert the resources into building dense, reliable and affordable public transport systems, the better.

    And since this "counter argument" is almost inevitable: Yes, I am aware that there are use cases where a motor vehicle is the only option. I'm not calling for the abolishment of motor vehicles.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Instead of trying to make self driving cars better...

      "Instead of trying to make self driving cars better...

      ...we should be worried about how to reduce the number of cars as much as possible.

      "

      Why not both.

      I see part of the problem as being due to zoning. Places of work wind up being some distance away from where homes are built with no useful public transportation. There's also the problem of every company being on the same schedule so roads have to be built for peak capacity that's highly inflated. Parking lots may only be used for 1/3 of the day but so are commercial buildings in many cases. It's going to take a Dirk Gently to analyze all of the aspects holistically and not get too mired in tiny details. I'm a big fan of PRT, working from home, non-standard schedules and work/live buildings. I'm not a fan of busses that stop every 2 blocks and can take an hour or more to go 20 miles. The last time I was on a bus, somebody sat near me hadn't bathed in ages and I was close to losing my last meal. Plenty of public transportation can be just as bad. There is so little security anywhere that criminals prowl the stations and trains looking for victims and there's whinging about how enforcement of fares disproportionately affects "people of color" even though those fare evaders are exactly the ones committing the crimes and discouraging anybody with the option from taking public transportation.

    2. Ken G Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Instead of trying to make self driving cars better...

      I don't see those as mutually exclusive.

      Let's assume you have mobility issues and you wish to visit somewhere 100km away. You could take a taxi the whole way but that's expensive or you could take a taxi to your public transport hub and use that to get to the centre of the area you're visiting and another taxi to your final destination. Now jump 10-20 years into the future and you do that but the 'taxi' is electric and self driving, add some intelligence for ride sharing with others going the same way and something to time the public transport to demand. More people moving more easily with less vehicles that are less polluting and safer around pedestrians.

      Public transport is free and I use it for most individual journeys but there are some times a car is more convenient. I have used car share schemes but getting to the car can be a pain and having one that came to me would take away most of my reason for owning one myself.

  12. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    British Level 5 trial!!!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-nottinghamshire-65857348

    icon: "I'll get my coat[car seat cover]"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: British Level 5 trial!!!

      I was wondering where the outfit of all those Youtube drive thru pranks had ended up..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: British Level 5 trial!!!

      This doesn't make sense. "pedestrians trust certain visual prompts". I've driven on that campus and nobody looks when crossing the roads.

  13. Yorick

    Nein, Hans

    This ist ein dumme idea.

    People are going to treat level 3 like level 4, ja? Or even level 5. This is going to get someone hurt, quite schlimm potentially.

    Nein! Nicht the level 3 activatung!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nein, Hans

      I'd trust it to work in a German car. Not in a Tesla.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Nein, Hans

      "People are going to treat level 3 like level 4, ja? Or even level 5."

      Plenty of people in Teslas at Level 2 treat it as Level 5.

  14. alecbaldwinuro

    Ok non of you seem to know what you are talking about. I have a few teslas all with Full Self Drive... and it full self drives EVERYWHERE busy city, freeways up to 85mph, and it's 99% perfect... and gets better every few months... I have seen the other systems and driven them they work on 20% of the roads, capped to 30mph and all kind of other bs.

    Once you ACTUALLY drive and use all of them you will see how far ahead Tesla is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You, sir, are a troll and I claim my £5.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        be fast, before his Tesla send him crashing against a firetruck!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      99% perfect

      So you only hit a pedestrian about 8 times a year?

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: 99% perfect

        The question we have to answer is "Does it hit people more often than a human driver?".

        Given the number of Teslas where I live** and the way they're not mowing people around all the time I'd suggest that the whole "FSD" thing is overblown.

        (**California, of course. "Number of Teslas" translates to "stopped at a random traffic signal you're likely to see two or more in the traffic queue with you. They are getting "as common as muck". I also know several T. owners and it really is a case of "You can have my Tesla when you can pry it from my cold, dead, fingers" -- I don't know why they're so obsessed with the things but it covers a huge demographic, young, old and so on.)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh hi Elon. Bored at Twitter already?

    4. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      > I have a few teslas all with Full Self Drive...

      Survival bias.

      Just because your use case is flawless, it doesn't make every use case flawless. Which is kind of the point of limiting "the other systems" to well defined use cases covering weather, speed and road conditions.

      The Tesla/Muskrat way of doing things is rather different - give it a name that encourages misuse, make sure it hands back control the second it can't cope any more (as opposed to spotting something outside its well defined performace parameters building up and handing back control when there is ample time to do something, for a potentially distracted driver) so the company can plausibly(? well legally if not morally) blame the driver and worry about the court cases later.

  15. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Who ordered this

    The cost and risk of automated cars is something that's being foisted on people rather than being particularly useful. There's so much that needs to change to make it useful that it's time is far from imminent. In congested traffic, there is so much to take into consideration that an automated car is not going to be able to keep up. On a long trip over open roads, there's the danger of getting plateau trance, but also a good place to take a train instead of driving (and the US needs many more routes/trips). Even a slower train can be a better way to go if it means catching that train in the evening and arriving the next morning. A company is going to offer a service from Los Angeles to San Francisco over the same tracks that Amtrak uses once a day for their Coast Starlight route. I worked out the train going perhaps 50mph which is fine. If you are sleeping, the trip is taking next to no time and if you wake up in the middle of the night, there's more than one loo available and a reasonable expectation of coffee and a bun in the morning. Flying from LA to SF is hours with the flight portion being the smallest percentage of time and you'd be lucky to get a packet with 4 small pretzels and half a can of a fizzy drink splashed over an entire cup of ice. LA to SF or the other way is a fairly straight trip on mostly major highways so wouldn't be too stressful for an automated car, but it would take 5-6 hours of attentive driving even with 'driver assistance' features turned on.

    1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: Who ordered this

      Me Too Syndrome, can't risk being left behind in case someone else makes it work (never mind how dumb it is)

  16. Ken G Silver badge
    Coat

    It doesn't matter who cracks it

    Every car maker will have it working for the following model year once it's clear what combination of sensors is needed and the software is reverse engineered.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: It doesn't matter who cracks it

      "Every car maker will have it working for the following model year once it's clear what combination of sensors is needed and the software is reverse engineered."

      The joke icon is misplaced. The earl bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. Not only to you reverse engineer something that works, you also get to fix all of the initial mistakes so more time is spent on improvements rather than doing the hard work up front. The first mover might also have damaged their reputation by those mistakes that you are going to fix so when you bring out your product, it works much better out of the gate than those other schmucks.

  17. EricB123 Bronze badge

    Blast from the Past

    "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz, my friends all have Teslas..."

    Nothing like properly updating an old classic.

    1. The Bobster

      Re: Blast from the Past

      ...my friends all have Teslas

      they don't make the bends.

    2. LogicGate Silver badge

      Re: Blast from the Past

      Oh Lord, won't you drive me my Merzedes Benz? My friends all have Teslas, the driving is tense..

  18. Nonymous Crowd Nerd

    Tesla in the middle of the pack on sept driving

    So why is half the article, supposedly about Mercedes, actually knocking copy on Tesla?

    If Tesla of in the middle, who else is at the top with Mercedes? When do we think the next car will make level 3 and whose will it be?

    And if we must talk about Tesla, is their "Full Self Driving“ short on a particular feature, if so what? Or is it that Tesla aren't keen on the admin process of getting the system certified?

    And what's the position with a car that's been verified getting over the air updates that might degrade the conformance - does each update get re-checked?

    There are quite a few questions not answered here.

  19. martinusher Silver badge

    Its demographics

    My part of California is fairly upscale area so you're going to see a lot of newer cars, far more than the US's 9-12 year average vehicle age. Its a pretty good guide to what people buy when they are well off enough to afford what they want rather than what they can buy.. We have a lot of upscale vehicles -- what you'd regard as luxury vehicles in the UK -- with all the upscale names represented (and sold by the local dealers) with plenty of hybrids and the occasional weird fuel experimental. What you'll also see is a lot of Teslas. Model 3s are more common than Toyotas -- its not uncommon to have two or three for company when stopped at a traffic signal.

    So in a world where people can afford Mercedes they buy Tesla. Why? Its not cost, its "cost of ownership". Quality issues are not Tesla bad / Mercedes good -- Mercs have had a lot of "huh?" type reliability issues in recent years (and they cost a fortune to fix). As for automatic driving, its handy to have driver assist -- in fact there's talk of making some things mandatory for new vehicles -- but for our roads its easy enough to get around. (Downtown in Los Angeles proper.......maybe not so much!) So -- why the TeslaHate? Its about as irrational as MAGA. Whatever you think of Musk the company Tesla has developed a lot of usable IP which its now starting to share with other manufacturers (like the recent announcements about Supercharger use by both Ford and GM)(which explains why the Tesla truck isn't high profile any more -- leave the trucks to the traditional American companies.)

    BTW -- I drive a 2006 Toyota.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its demographics

      Whatever Tesla did in the past, it is now subjects to the whims of EM, like deciding that LIDAR/RADAR is not good and can be replaced by cameras because he got angry with someone.

      So unless someone manages to run interference between EM and the engineers, perhaps the next idea of EM will be to deactivate LIDAR/RADAR sensors on past models that are using it for parking assist, even if they are not equipped with enough cameras to restore the functionality?

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Its demographics

      "So in a world where people can afford Mercedes they buy Tesla. Why? Its not cost, its "cost of ownership"."

      No, it's not. Just because people with the means choose to buy something doesn't mean it's the efficient choice. In fact, that often makes it less cost-efficient than what a poorer person might choose, because the poorer person at least has to think a bit about the cost. If you can easily buy an expensive car, you are likely also capable of buying more expensive repairs, and thus not thinking about the repair cost too much. The same thing can be seen in expensive computers, which are not necessarily any easier to repair and are in some cases much harder to repair than something cheaper.

      Ask those people why they chose a Tesla. Maybe some people will speak about a lower cost or frequency of repairs, although I have no information on whether that's true, but I doubt that's the major cited reason. I'm expecting a lot more generalities about it being high-quality, high-tech, pleasant, or environmentally friendly. These are perfectly good reasons to spend money on a car, but don't assume the average customer has calculated out the total cost of ownership before they buy anything.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Its demographics

        At the same time wealthy people often look at the total cost of ownership - it's how they keep their money. If it costs more up front, but less over the lifetime of a product then you spend the extra up front... something which those with less financial means can't do. #vimesboots

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Its demographics

          "At the same time wealthy people often look at the total cost of ownership - it's how they keep their money. If it costs more up front, but less over the lifetime of a product then you spend the extra up front... something which those with less financial means can't do. #vimesboots"

          I also think that Sir Samuel is entirely correct about boots. I also doubt that people buying an expensive car are looking at the TCO. A pair of boots aren't going to be financed so there isn't the interest payments to consider. People don't get boot insurance that's calculated on the price of the boots and their cost to repair for various type of common accidents. Annual boot registration based on the cost of the boots isn't a thing. The list goes on. People will correctly point out that the maintenance cost of an EV can be much less than an ICEV, but will then fail to realize that repairs can be far more costly. The cost for a Model 3 headlight from Tesla is more money that what I used to pay on my mortgage every month. That's when you can get them from Tesla. If it's getting close to the end of the quarter and there's a big push to squeeze out as many cars as possible for the dog and pony show, getting spares is often a problem.

          I buy good shoes and they last me years. The trainers I have on now I bought second hand 2.5 years ago, maybe more. They are getting a bit knobbly, but I have a newer pair also bought second hand in almost new condition should I need to "dress up". Honestly, nobody is looking at the shoes a guy is wearing and it's usually women that check out each other shoes. I also like to buy good solid wood furniture. There's some Ikea in the house, but these sorts of things will happen. My suit is very good quality and in a conservative cut so it's not going to go out of style. It stays in really good condition since I rarely wear it. Kitchen ware, top shelf. One really good chef's knife is far superior to a second rate set.

    3. hplasm
      Alert

      Re: Its demographics

      "cost of ownership".

      I think Mercedes have possibly lowered the cost of 'rental' for their cars - at least in the UK they seem to be the new Boy Racer Chavmobiles.

      BMW must be losing street cred...

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Its demographics

      "Mercs have had a lot of "huh?" type reliability issues in recent years (and they cost a fortune to fix)"

      You think that Teslas aren't a fortune to fix (when you can get the parts)?

  20. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    Amazing all those morons who are captured by their cars and dont realise how much of their lives they are wasting in them. Jokes on them when they are 70 and realise they wasted 10+ years of their life inside their metal boxes with or without FSD, its still a prison.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "dont realise how much of their lives they are wasting in them"

      I'm more of the opinion that people don't realize how much they've spent ON them. No car I've ever owned was purchased to be a 'statement about who I am" unless you want to say I'm thrifty. There's been a lot of function over form and I like having a car in good condition which is easier to accomplish if it starts in good condition. Only one car has been new and I learned my lesson. I'm a really good fit for an EV. My driving fits nicely with something like a Chevy Bolt. The problem is that my current car is pretty good and would be really excellent with an engine swap and some paint. The Bolt I got an email on today was $14k. Repairs on my current car to get it up to a good spec is around $2k. $12k buys a big tin full of petrol even if the price doubles (again).

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