Lane changing decisions and beyond: Do we trust them yet?

Tesla Motors recently introduced their 7.0 “Autopilot” software update for their Model S sedan with lane change and auto-steer capability. Of course, at this point, Tesla warns that the driver, and not Tesla or its software and systems, is still responsible for the ultimate control of the car.

The Model S is aware of its proximity to other cars and displays that information on the dashboard. This lays down the gauntlet to other cars manufacturers and will start a “leap-frog” battle going forward, beginning with the high end automobile manufacturers.

I have always advocated autonomous vehicles in place of so many humans who are texting, talking on the phone, and just plain distracted while driving—-robust electronics, software and sensors are far more reliable and will save lives and injury without a doubt. We are nowhere near the fully autonomous vehicle, but I applaud Tesla for this lane change effort and auto-steer capability. I think it will ultimately make drivers pay more attention than they do now. The software is still in its early stages, so drivers are warned to be aware of getting too comfortable.

Of course, there will still be those irresponsible people who will see these innovations as more of a reason to text and talk while in a car instead of fully focusing upon the road, but I do believe that the electronic sensor assists like Tesla is implementing will help drivers maintain safe distances from cars around them as well as preventing “blind-spot” accidents while lane changing.

Elon Musk says that the new system will also collect data from the driver and improve itself by remembering how fast drivers can safely go around a particular bend in the road and will also remember where stop signs are located (Can remember where stop signs are now, especially while being heavy in thought or conversation while driving?)

We still need to keep our hands on the wheel, Musk comments, and his autopilot system will have a chime to remind drivers if they let go of the wheel. He says that technically, fully autonomous vehicles are about three years away but that it will actually take regulators longer than that to test and approve it for the road.

Read these neat articles by Nuvation and Bill Schweber and me to see what their thoughts are about autonomous vehicles:





Please tell me how you feel about this technological advancement in automobiles?

6 comments on “Lane changing decisions and beyond: Do we trust them yet?

  1. Cheri S
    October 21, 2015

    While I agree there are some things sensors and code can do better, full automation will provide the Guv'ment way too much information and the potential for abuse will be too tempting. Your self driving car can deliver you to the police station of their choice, guilty or not! Gives credence to Heinlien's “the world as fiction”…

    Also, vehicular software has been norotious for being buggy without the electronic infrastructure to support feature creep and code fixes. Having a Ford with their Sync software and the fact that it has to reset itself every 24 driving hours, and ran out of code memory space to store all settings, processor not fast enough to show all traffic info from Sirius… I'd be upset if I had to purchase another car to support a code update – or another module for some crazy parts cost (no dealer provided parts are inexpensive).

    Yeah…I'm not a fan. I prefer to control my destiny and not leave it to machines.

  2. Wirecutter
    October 21, 2015

    Car manufactures do now how to charge for items supplied by there dealers.  Wife's car had a problem with lights, wipers and remote door locks, as car 1 year out of warrentee, garage wanted £1,800 for computer and another £ 350.00 for “programming” it!  Fault traced to very high value 'pull up' resistors on switch contacts ~ 6M8 it didn't take much leakage  to put 2V on some lines, a couple of 68K replacement Rnets stopped it happening.

  3. Steve Taranovich
    October 21, 2015

    You are right @wirecutter—not all electronics systems in automobiles are reliable. It's a metter of cost vs. performance/reliability unfortunately depending upon if the automobile is a low=priced car or a luxury car

  4. Steve Taranovich
    October 21, 2015

    @Cheri S—If you are one of the non-distracted drives, then I agree with your decision, but there are far too many distracted drives that need suidance by higher tech electronics.

    I do, however, agree about the reliability and cost of the computer and software “bugs” but I don't agree with your fear for government “big brother” control. I am more afraid of hackers getting control of an autonomous vehicle—we need to do more in the security end of electronics before we make autonomous vehicles ubiquitous.


    I guess you are also wary of government intrusion into your computer and mobile phone? That's a big controversy and we need to balance the war on terrorism vs. our privacy very carefully. The Constitution should rule that

  5. zeeglen
    October 22, 2015

    This lays down the gauntlet to other cars manufacturers and will start a “leap-frog” battle going forward

    Does anyone really think that software written by corp A will work flawlessly with software written by corp B?  Then corp C jumps in with THEIR version which works only on vehicles that THEY manufacture.

    Then corp A does an 'upgrade' and their software suddenly no longer works with the software of corp B or corp C.  Bad enough when in the past this exact same scenario only caused your computer to crash…

    I will NEVER trust software to do my driving for me.

  6. Steve Taranovich
    October 22, 2015

    @zeeglen—Have you ever flown in an airplane? When the pilot turns the “auto-pilot” system on, software is flying that plane with hundreds of passengers aboard yet Boeing and Airbus aircraft flying in proximity of each other are able to communicate and fly safely….

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