Computer vision is no joke. It’s remarkably difficult to get inert bits of metal and silicon to be able to look around themselves and generate some idea of what’s around them. That’s why it’s really not all that surprising to see mistakes like this. But that doesn’t mean it’s not also kind of funny, because we humans very rarely mistake washers and dryers for buses unless we’re really, really drunk.
This little video comes to us via a tesla owner named Marek, who posted the video of his confused Tesla on Reddit’s r/SelfDrivingCars forum. Marek told us that he noticed the strange washer-identification behavior after his car was updated with the latest Tesla Model S software update.
What’s especially interesting is how the displayed image of the bus appears to be wobbling on the display, which is the one thing even more alarming than a huge bus inches away from your car—a huge wobbling bus inches away from your car.
Teslas use a combination of radar, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and eight external cameras, including these side-mounted cameras to sense what’s around the sides of the car. In this case, it’s not clear if the radar system just “saw” a big, mostly metallic-seeming wall and determined it had to be a bus, or if the side camera captured an image of the washer and driver that confused its algorithm into thinking the clothes-cleaners were a bus.
I’ve reached out to Tesla for some sort of explanation, but in the meantime I’d suggest that drivers occasionally peek out the windows just to confirm that what they’re seeing on those screens actually exists.
Can’t hurt, right?