Tesla continues to beta test its Autopilot system with what it calls “full self-driving capability.” But this driver in Colorado put too much faith into that full self-driving claim. In 18 minutes of video, there are enough near-misses to convince everyone that Tesla needs to do more work. Taylor Ogan found out firsthand when his Model 3 headed straight for an oncoming Denver train.
In Full Self-Driving mode, you see there are several near-misses. But the spooky one occurred when his Tesla turned left into the path of an oncoming Denver light-rail train. Sitting at a red light waiting with the left turn signal on, the Autopilot system should recognize the driver’s intent.
Why did the Tesla Autopilot not see the oncoming train?
But either Autopilot determined it had enough time to turn left before the arrival of the train, or it just glitched out. Either way, if you look at Ogan’s screen inside the Tesla, you clearly see the train. So it should have registered with the system.
Fortunately, he was paying attention. When the Tesla moved forward, he steered it away from imminent disaster. There was even enough time for the train’s operator to blow the train’s horn.
Later in the video, another left turn proves almost as deadly as the train incident. In turning left, the Tesla takes the turn too wide and almost runs over two pedestrians. That was the end of Ogan’s fun day using Tesla’s Autopilot. He says, “I’m super disappointed with Tesla.”
Why was Tesla allowed to release the undeveloped Autopilot system?
It’s unclear why Tesla has released the beta version of Autopilot after watching the video? It’s not ready for prime time. Autopilot development should not get a Level 2 designation from the NHTSA.
And don’t forget, the “beta testers” are just average drivers, not professionally trained to deal with things like cars randomly driving into trains. Honestly, the Autopilot system must be more advanced than it apparently is. Another issue is why there aren’t more ground rules from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that would prevent the release to the public of such a system.
Level 2 autonomous systems aren’t “self-driving”
Tesla’s Autopilot system is testing at what the NHTSA calls Level 2. So it is not a “full self-driving capable” system. From the NHTSA, “The driver is still responsible for monitoring the roadway and safe operation and is expected to be available for control at all times and on short notice. The system can relinquish control with no advance warning and the driver must be ready to control the vehicle safely.”
Level 3 cedes full control to the self-driving system, but the driver still must be ready to take over control. However, not in a quick or emergency situation, but more of a transition. It’s apparent that the Tesla Autopilot system is far from Level 3, based on Ogan’s experiences.