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Tesla cars can drive without the driver, Consumer Reports engineers find

Tesla cars can drive without the driver, Consumer Reports engineers find

April 27, 2021: -On Thursday, Consumer Reports said that it took a 2020 Tesla Model Y on a closed test track to know if the electric vehicle can operate on Autopilot, Tesla’s automated driving system, without the driver. The product-testing organization concluded that it could “easily get the car to drive even with no one in the driver’s seat.”

Thesumer Reports tricked Tesla’s system by putting a weighted chain on the wheel and keeping the seat belt on the driver’s seat.

On Saturday, the test follows a fatal 2019 Model S crash in Spring, Texas, that elicited two federal investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the police, after a preliminary investigation, nobody was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.

On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet that the “Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD. Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have.”

After Musk’s tweet, Texas police planned to serve search warrants on Tesla to secure data from the crash, Reuters reported.

Fisher said, “Any system that looks at lane lines can be easily tricked. They may see something like an imaginary lane line, a tear strip, and a curb may be interpreted as lane line and many more.” He noted that Tesla’s Autopilot needs only a single-lane line to engage, whereas some systems require a double line.

Fisher also said, “Tesla falls behind other automakers such as GM and Ford that use technology to make sure the driver looks at the road on models with advanced driver assist systems.”

BMW, Ford, GM, Subaru, and others use camera-based driver assistance systems to track driver’s eyes and head position to make sure they mind the road. Some of these vehicles, even those with GM’s Super Cruise system, will slow to a stop if they sense drivers are too inattentive or disengaged automatically.

Tesla vehicles have no such camera system for driver monitoring but have sensors in the steering wheel to detect whether a driver’s hands are on the wheel. The cars will “nag” drivers to put their hands back on the wheel if they are very much inattentive. Autopilot or FSD can eventually lock a driver out of using the function if warnings are ignored too often.

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