I believe that it won’t be long before we have fully-autonomous cars, capable of whisking our inattentive asses around in total safety. I also know that we are by no means there yet, as this alarming video of a Tesla driver quickly taking control of the car from Autopilot to avoid a wreck shows.
Just in case you think it’s okay to let a Tesla’s Autopilot completely take over while you zone out, watch this and get schooled:
Yikes, right? The SUV blindly changing lanes right in front of the Tesla seemed to be completely unnoticed by Autopilot, but the human driver—who seems to have been just talking about Autopilot and its inclusion in the upcoming Model 3—did see the threat, and those human reflexes kicked in just in time, swerving the car into the (thankfully) empty lane to the left to avoid the clueless SUV.
The human driver was able to know what was about to happen because the SUV driver, though shitty at looking behind themselves or checking their blind spot, did at least manage to telegraph their intent to change lanes by using their turn indicator.
That blinking orange light conveyed the SUV’s goal before the car was even over the dotted white line, and gave the human a heads up to be cautious; I have not been able to confirm if Tesla’s Autopilot system even looks for blinking indicators at all for information; I think the system can read brake lights, but I’m not sure. I reached out to Tesla for answers, but since they have their Model 3 event tomorrow, I think a reply will be slow coming; I’ll update when I hear back.
This situation is still a sticky point for autonomous systems; we humans can read the signs that the vehicle intends to enter the lane, but the computer vision system doesn’t seem to be able to, and the radar systems don’t detect the car until it’s actually in front, which would be too late.
You’re welcome, robot.