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Friday, May 19, 2023

Total Self Driving Tesla’s Are Not Safe to Drive Today


As my regular readers may know, my wife Nancy and I drive a 2021 Tesla Plaid. One reason we do is its TSD, total self-driving, beta software. It took us about a year before Tesla would allow us to activate the TSD software that we’d already paid for. This happened about six months ago, and we anxiously tested it out. We both agreed that it wasn’t safe to drive after experiencing many occasions when we had to override the autonomous function, such as the vehicle stopping suddenly in heavy traffic. We’ve had several software updates and each time we tried out the TSD function again but were disappointed each time.

Last Monday Elon Musk was interviewed live by David Faber on CNBC, and we watched and listened to this interview, which was extremely interesting and informative. This is the link to the interview, and I highly recommend that you listen to it:

However, during the interview Elon Musk led listeners to believe that the software for fully autonomous Tesla’s was perfected to the point that they are “safer than vehicles with human drivers”. He pointed out statistical comparisons with TSD Tesla’s vs. all other vehicles. He even told David Faber (the interviewer) that he (Elon) had personally driven a TSD Tesla in San Francisco for 3 days with never once having to override the fully autonomous function.

Our Tesla Plaid had just downloaded another autonomous software update and Nancy and I decided to “take it out for an autonomous spin” and drive from Jupiter, FL to Stuart, FL along U.S. 1, about a 20-mile trip. We chose this stretch of road because it’s not heavily traveled and clearly easier driving than within San Francisco. Everything went fine for about 10 miles. As we approached the town of Stuart, driving north on U.S. 1 on a 4-lane divided highway, a car driving toward us on the inside lane of the southbound divided highway was attempting to turn East, apparently to make a U-turn and drive back north, the same direction we were traveling, fully autonomously. This driver was stopped at the break in the divided highway with his left turn signal on. Nancy and I were in our outside passing lane traveling toward him. The speed limit in this stretch of highway is 50 mph and we were traveling at that exact speed. The traffic as we approached the city of Stuart was moderate to heavy. Our Tesla Plaid suddenly braked, and I had to immediately override the autonomous function to accelerate and avoid a read-end collision. For whatever reason, our Tesla’s TSD software was trying to avoid a collision from the car that was waiting to make a legal U turn with his turn signal on. Had I not overridden this, we would very likely have been rear-ended by the vehicle behind us, traveling at 50 mph.

I’m a big fan of Elon Musk and believe that he’s up there with all the creative geniuses in history. I also believe that, with the help of A.I., Tesla TSD software will become safer to drive our cars than we can. In his interview, he told David Faber that this would be this year, but he’s said that before.

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