I have a lot of problems with Level 2 semi-automated driver assist systems from all carmakers, and while Tesla tends to get most of the attention with their Autopilot system, the truth is they’re all inherently flawed. They’re flawed because they ask two things from humans that we’re simply not equipped to give: constant attention and readiness to take over while the machine does most of the work, and sometimes not being absolute idiots. Neither are things we’re great at, the latter of which was proved extremely effectively by a Romanian dude in a Peugeot.
Using a water bottle jammed in the steering wheel to defeat the Peugeot 508's inadequate driver monitoring system (which seems to consist of just a torque sensor in the steering wheel) our idiot, impatient for the coming of true autonomy, climbed into the back seat to pretend while the car used Peugeot’s Drive Assist Pack well beyond its intended capabilities, with predictable results.
Even better, the video was made available for all of us to enjoy some schadenfreude time with:
Oh, you stupid, lucky dummy. This fan of Cutting Crew’s saccharine 1987 hit I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight was really lucky he didn’t die in his car’s arms that night, or kill anyone else with his moronic stunt.
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As an aside, that song is a lot more fun if you change the lyrics “I just died in your arms tonight/must have been something you said,” with ““I just died in your arms tonight/must have been something I ate.” Try it!
I’m told the language spoken is Romanian, and while I’m not sure of what was actually said, the general story is quite clear: they start delighted at what they think is a super-clever way to get the car to drive them by itself, then the system gets confused by the lane markings on the road and starts to veer off the highway, and an attempted correction by the person in the passenger’s seat just makes everything worse, seemingly flipping the car over.
Luckily, nobody inside or outside the car appears to have been injured, and hopefully a lesson was learned here.
Driver-assist systems are not self-driving. Not even close. If you’re not paying constant attention to what the car is doing, you’re being an idiot, and a result like this one could be how your drive ends.
Peugeot’s driver monitoring system isn’t really good enough, but it’s not exactly the system’s fault this happened—this is not what these systems are for. Unfortunately, the very nature of these systems encourages over-confidence in them, and that, mixed with a healthy dose of idiocy, leads to decisions like this one.