a secret configuration dubbed "Elon Mode"
Is that because if you use it you're liable to wreck the expensive thing you just bought?
The discovery of a secret Tesla Autopilot configuration that allows the self-driving system to operate without driver attention isn't sitting well with US regulators who have cut a special order to get more information for their ongoing investigation. Hidden in the depths of Tesla's software, the National Highway Traffic …
... send on X a PM to EM stating "fuck the NHTSA", and your car receive the unlock code immediately.
Side effects include back pains, new names for your children, and a move to the far right (not for the car, it will just accelerate every time it sees a vehicle belonging to a government body)
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FSD unsafe because Musk refused to use Lidar, says NHTSA director Ann Carlson, who just happens to have a bunch of shares in the company producing Lidar equipment. In tests with Lidar, eg GM's Cruise, their system is less "safe". Ah, profits v. public safety...profits of course.
“the company producing LIDAR equipment”, as if there’s only one manufacturer...
LIDAR isn’t magic, but the last two letters, AR (And Ranging) explain why it’s really useful when you want to make sure your computer-guided 2 tonne car doesn't drive right into a solid wall (or the side of an 18-wheeler truck). But you don’t even need LIDAR - a much cheaper radar sensor of the type used in Level 1 adaptive cruise control would work too. Musk was too cheap to install either.
Tesla execs would do well to read up on the history of the US auto industry, because without some serious course correction, their company is barrelling towards its own Pinto scandal.
It is a tenet of our civil service, or at least used to be, that a civil servant regulating or even commenting on an industry where he or she (they?) has a financial stake is not OK. And yes, stating that to pass regulatory muster a FSD must incorporate LIDAR will raise the value of all manufacturers of that equipment.
As you seem to have some knowledge of this subject, can you explain to us how the Tesla autopilot currently manages to operate, without LIDAR or other non-visual ranging tech?
> can you explain to us how the Tesla autopilot currently manages to operate, without LIDAR or other non-visual ranging tech?
Nowhere near as accurately, reliably - basically, safely - as it could (not would, but could) with the addition of LIDAR, ultrasonics and/or every other tried and tested sensor technology that can be bolted on.
What is more intriguing, though, is that YOU are the one who is claiming in this very forum that you are more interested in the tech than the rest of us - surely it is YOU who should be schooling us about how the tech works, not asking the most basic questions about how vision-based object detection and ranging works!
 the refusal to use anything other than camera feeds is just tech bro willy waving from Musk - we are not talking about weight to a $10 drone here!
It really is a mess at the moment, and it's really really hard to get this stuff to work. But I can't wait till it does.
Less traffic jams. Safer roads. No need for car parks (I'll just send it home). The future will finally be here!
I just hope it's in my lifetime (next 30 years), but I doubt it.. :(
Sorry to break it to you, but private autonomous vehicles will create traffic jams, and will most likely be banned or heavily taxed in urbanised areas.
Like a lot of people, you’ve been gently guided toward thinking that in this future scenario, only you will own an autonomous car, and so when you drive to your destination, you don’t ever think about being stuck in traffic with all the autonomous cars that have been sent back to their homes.
Right now, vehicle occupancy in the USA is about 1.1 persons per car, which is why traffic is so horrible in US cities without good mass transit (i.e., nearly all of them). This ratio has slowly reduced over the decades, and you can add to this that cars are also getting bigger and longer, which means fewer people carried per foot of road-lane. Basically, the efficiency of the road network in suburban areas is declining. To solve the traffic problems in car-dependent cities in the short to medium term, traffic planners have been trying carrot-and-stick programs to get that occupancy figure up to 1.25 per vehicle, because the alternative is billion-dollar road programs that will only forestall the problem for 5 years at a time. (One metropolitan planner told me once that if the law allowed it, he would mail checks to people to get them to car-pool, because it was a better use of highway funding than actually building new roads).
But the important thing is that in high-traffic cities, occupancy is a nice (inverse) proxy for congestion: the lower that average vehicle occupancy figure gets, the closer a city gets to traffic hell. Now, imagine the effect of a whole fleet of 0.0 person vehicles would have on that average... It would only take 12% of drivers to have one for the traffic planning models that underpin your city’s road transport network to enter the “this can never happen, so don’t worry about how shit it gets” zone where occupancy rates fall below 1.0.
Now if only there were a way to reduce the length/width of the vehicles that people are using ....... [cough]motorbike/moped[cough]!
Unfortunately, here in the UK they have spent the last 40 years doing their best(/worst) to legislate 2 wheeled vehicles off the road.
I don't think it's legislation as much as cars getting cheaper. When I was a student, 40 years ago, lots and lots of young people rode motorbikes, mopeds or scooters as a cheap way to get around. Nowadays the same demographic all has cars, and when you see a group of bikers with their helmets off almost all of them are well over 60. Motorcycling is an old people's activity now.
“They” can only refer to the subset of young men who ride motorbikes that have done their best to convince the general population and governments that motorcycles are lethal implements.
I know “not all bikers” and not by a long way, but you will know exactly who I’m talking about - the kid who has a bit of cash, turns 24 and gets his A-licence and immediately buys something that you know he lacks the experience to ride safely... and a year or two later you hear he’s had a massive spill. Bikes have become really cheap relative to income (and are not taxed in the way cars are), plus because they last much longer now, and high-performance bikes are especially cheap second hand, it’s cheaper to get on something dangerously fast - without something to rein in the impulses of the young male, there would be a bloodbath. This wasn’t a problem before the 1990s because typical bikes were heavier and had less power - now everything is lighter and faster, but the skill of novice riders hasn’t increased.
For cities, the two-wheeled transport that’s needed is bicycles, and it’s relatively easy to install space for them to keep cars away from bicycles, and the bicycles away from pedestrians. Electric-assisted pedal-bikes make cycle-commuting a practical proposition (generally, however far you can ride comfortably on pedal-power alone, you can nearly triple that for an e-bike).
My wife is very nervous around the "just engine and wheels" kinds of bikes, but is perfectly fine about the expensive touring bikes, and will often show admiration about them to their riders. The riders are typically much more cautious and respectful of others than the riders of the smaller, super-fast ones.
In my 30+ years in a pediatric intensive care unit, I only saw one person killed by a motorcycle. That being said, they are a lot more dangerous for the rider, especially the first 500 miles.
Those e-skateboards, razor scooters, and unicycles look ridiculously dangerous, but are 5% the cost.
"In my 30+ years in a pediatric intensive care unit, I only saw one person killed by a motorcycle. That being said, they are a lot more dangerous for the rider, especially the first 500 miles."
I worked as an EMT for a year. I hated it and saw far too many motorcycle crash idiots with souped up ricer burners or where lane splitting on their hog and somebody made a rapid lane change right in front of them. They can be hard to see especially at certain times of the day. I've been surprised a few times when I didn't see one that may have been hidden by a pillar of the car at the moment I checked to see if I was ok to move over/make a turn. Cars being much larger/wider are less likely to be occluded.
"For cities, the two-wheeled transport that’s needed is bicycles, and it’s relatively easy to install space for them to keep cars away from bicycles, and the bicycles away from pedestrians."
Weather is still an issue and what to do with your bike at the destination. If train stations had bike lockers to secure the whole bike, people might be more amenable to taking their bike on a nice day. The same might go for places of work where a bike rack is too exposed to somebody with a pair of bolt cutters and 2 minutes to work them. Even some thieves carry battery powered cut-off tools that work on many high security locks/chains. An eBike is much more expensive than a pedal bike and some cost more than a decent second hand motorbike.
" which is why traffic is so horrible in US cities without good mass transit (i.e., nearly all of them). "
In cities that do have public transportation, much of it doesn't connect up either in space, time or both. You either have to get a taxi from one form of transportation to the depot where you can get another. I love taking the train, but I can't take a bus to the train station as the busses aren't running for that first train out and all subsequent trains have a hour plus layover where I need to change. There's also that little thing about the bus schedule being very tight on their last run vs. the train schedule so I'd be stranded and calling a cab if the train is late. The nice thing about the Amtrak connecting buses is that if the train is late, the bus waits for it. My issue is a city bus and a commuter rail line (not Amtrak). Ideally, it would be awesome of one could go from bus to tram to train to airport in comfort and safety, with luggage.
I see so many people step onto roads in Canada on a crosswalk\crossing without looking because the law gives them right of way.
There's quite a lot of various laws about mass, speed, inertia, bone density, squishy flesh, ugly bags of mostly water, thinking distance & stopping distance that would like to give then a clue why stepping out in front of a car without looking is a bad idea.
Tufty Club, Batman*, SPLINK, Green Cross Code Man & a childhood bully who permanently lost out to a car at the age of 7 or 8, taught me to open my bloody eyes as I prepared to & crossed the road.
* Yes really that Batman - https://youtu.be/pFGZs4umeOE?si=Rh6mpvszhAIQr2mK
"Think of it as evolution in action. A squashed kid, a major lawsuit, one less self-driving car... After a while children will stop suddenly walking into roads. One way or another."
Evolution acts so slow that there's a greater chance of running out of kids before all that are left instinctively look both ways as they've been told a gazillion times!
I still haven't spotted the mythical superfly that can fly out of the open half of a half open window. Flies also like to bash against all the windows when they get into my car and completely avoid the window I've rolled down to get them out.
Well it should end up being substantially safer, since an automatic system has 360 awareness, with no blind spots, and no lack of attention.
Watch some Dirty Tesla videos on YT - the system isn't ready for us to hand back our licenses, but it's pretty bloody good the vast majority of the time (particularly when you consider that it isn't working off intense mapping data - or any mapping data at all if you look at some of the things it still gets wrong)
> you're unlikely to find anyone here interested in how the tech actually works.
Au contraire, mon frere.
Many here are very, very interested in how it works - after all, seeing these things on the roads, it is our lives at stake as well, you know.
What you seem to be doing is mistaking "not being impressed with their attitude" with "not being interested". All those teeny, tiny little things, like deliberately reducing the number of sensors that have been proven to be really quite useful, just to be able to boast that the beasts are relying solely on cameras.
You may possibly also be confusing the anecdotes of one person driving their Tesla around and videoing it with knowing "how the tech works".
You see, when we techies say "we know how that works", we don't mean "we have observed a behaviour" but that we actually know how that behaviour occurred.
You "know how a light switch works" because you saw a video of someone moving the little bit of plastic.
We "know how a light switch works" because we know that bit of plastic, when moved, will push on a piece of springy metal and force it into contact with another piece of metal, which allows a flow of current through the rest of the circuit and into the LED bulb, where a fascinating set of quantum effects occur, trading electrical energy for photons, which photons strike a phosphor layer painted onto the LED, causing a secondary chain of fascinating quantum effects to occur, releasing another stream of electrons, this time spread over a far wider ranger of energies in order to give a more pleasing effect.
Can you spot the difference in our and your approaches?
That elongated muskrat seems to be running Tesla like some sort of exclusive club: fuck regulations, fuck safety - this nominally functional machine has been designed by elon to be a toy for his fanboys. From video games on its main screen, to illegal self-driving modes, he just doesn't care what he does. It'll hopefully all come tumbling down soon. He's a maverick and the bad sort.
I see you, and many others here, apparently, have received and installed the 'EM=BAD' update. For a tech website I'd expected a readership a little less susceptible to 'the message', a little less likely to open an unsolicited .pdf in their email. My expectations have not been met.
It sounds like it is you who has pre-judged Musk, and are sticking with that rosy view in defiance of the evidence. I don’t form fixed opinions of people - I judge people mostly by their actions. So, when Elon Musk starts acting like someone who understands why there are laws, and stops ignoring them purely from exaggerated self-belief, then, and only then, I will revise my own low opinion of him.
The NHTSA gave Tesla a deadline of August 25 to respond, and the company has done so, but the regulator is keeping the response private due to the presence of confidential business information.
In other words, they got a poop emoji and are still trying to figure out the meaning of that...?
> Drivers with their hands off the wheel get what Tesla owners refer to as a "nag," and if they don't respond to it, Autopilot can disengage.
Disengage? Like, just disengage completely? When you *know* the driver is not aware (and may not even be capable of being aware - strokes can happen)?
What, never thought about "engages as many safety features as we can, including the hazard lights, regular blaring of the horn, decelerating in a controlled fashion and using the famed auto-parking mode to bring the vehicle to a safe stop, out of the way of other traffic as much as the situation allows"?
Just disengage, then our software is not in control and we are not to blame in any way from that point onwards.
Our lawyers advise us that we have never heard of a "trolley bus", we do not believe that this "San Francisco" even exists.
> Disengage... As in becomes a regular car.
Except that it is now SUDDENLY a car, travelling at speed (and anything over 10 mph can do enough damage to count as "speed") whose driver we KNOW is not in a fit state to be driving for at least, ooh, 20 odd seconds whilst they try to take in the situation that they have just been dropped into. Assuming they are actually capable of that (heart attacks happen).
We *hope* all the other drivers are attentive, but we *know* that ours is not - so, no, it is not like any of the other cars around it (in most cases, that is; sometimes there will be other Teslas around, about to detect their driver has also gone bye-bye, but we'll keep to the simpler scenario for now).
So, no, it is not a "regular" or "normal" or "average" car, compared to those in its vicinity. And I think you will find that it is that particular comparison you ought to be making.
> Note that it will still emergency brake to a stop
Ooh, good idea; the driver was so inattentive that the car suddenly gave him back full control and an emergency brake is ever going to be the best action to take? One multicar pileup later...
I fear that, like our hypothetical Tesla driver, you have also taken your hands off the wheel for too long and in your inattention to what was being discussed you've just crashed into this comment without any situational awareness. So I shall type slowly and spell it out for you:
The car has just decided that the hypothetical Tesla driver has become inattentive. They can be assumed to have lost their situational awareness or they are, worst case, entirely unable to take control again (sudden vomiting from norovirus happens). There is no other problem. Up to this point, we can even assume, if you like, that the "FSD" is even operating really, really well: the car is in lane, moving along with the traffic, nobody outside has any inkling there might be a problem.
The car's current reaction to this, as you applaud, is to disengage, KNOWING that there is currently no competent driver at the wheel. So instead of a car neatly rolling along with the traffic we have - well, a worse situation, any way you want to look at it, from the point of view of anyone who isn't a Tesla product liability lawyer.
Now, don't you think that those Awfully Nice People At Tesla could do just a little bit better to help the situation?
 Yes, the driver behind should always leave enough space to react safely to the one in front emergency braking but (1) let us be sadly realistic about that and (2) your Tesla driver jerking awake and trying an emergency stop - is he going to do it perfectly, keeping the car in just its own lane? Honestly?
If anything, "my driver is not responding appropriately" is the perfect time for such a system to engage. And move to the shoulder of the road, park, and refuse to enter self-drive mode for at least an hour. If the driver STILL doesn't respond during the pulling-over, call EMS.