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Reviews Tesla Autopilot Update Warns Drivers Sooner to Keep Hands on Wheel

17:00  13 june  2018
17:00  13 june  2018 Source:   consumerreports.org

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The new Autopilot software update that Tesla started to roll out last week features some improvements in performance as promised by CEO Elon Musk. But now, owners are also finding out that Tesla significantly increased the “nag” to force drivers to keep their hands on the wheel .

The new Autopilot software update that Tesla started to roll out last week features some improvements in performance as promised by CEO Elon Musk. But now, owners are also finding out that Tesla significantly increased the “nag” to force drivers to keep their hands on the wheel .

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Tesla delivered an over-the-air update to its Autopilot driver-assist system over the weekend that warns drivers quicker with visual and audible alerts to put their hands back on the steering wheel.

The update also delivers warnings that are speed-sensitive, the automaker says, with alerts coming quicker if the car is moving faster.

Tesla declined to give details about how much faster the warnings were delivered as a result of the update. "We continuously update our vehicles based on data to provide the best and safest experience for drivers," a Tesla spokewoman said.

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22 collision in Los Angeles involving a Tesla Model S using Autopilot and a fire truck parked on the freeway. In the wake of that crash, Tesla updated Autopilot to stop allowing drivers to ignore repeated warnings to keep their hands on the wheel .

A Tesla vehicle involved in a fatal crash in March was speeding on a highway with its driver -assistance feature engaged and had alerted the driver to put his hands on the steering wheel more than 15 minutes before the collision, U.S. safety investigators said.

This Autopilot update follows several recent crashes—including a fatal one—that occured while the driver-assist system was activated. Tesla, looking at its information drawn from computer logs from the cars involved, can tell whether the driver assist system was activated and for how long drivers are interacting with the steering wheel before an incident.

Consumer Reports' Model 3 received its over-the-air Autopilot update over the weekend, and CR testers found it to be an incremental improvement, says Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.

“Earlier warnings to keep hands on the wheel is a step in the right direction,” Fisher said. “Tesla instructs drivers to keep hands on the wheel while driving every time the AutoPilot is activated, but allowing long intervals of hands-free driving is a mixed message that invites misuse."

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Autopilot is only supposed to be a driver -assist feature, and users are encouraged to keep their hands on the wheel , so on paper, this Autopilot update doesn’t change much — in fact, it puts Autopilot in the same category as other driver assist features like GM’s Super Cruise.

If you have a Tesla and use Autopilot , please keep your hands on the steering wheel . KTVU via Associated Press. I've driven several Tesla vehicles on Autopilot and feel strongly that drivers should never take their hands off the steering wheel .

Driver attention still the issue

Autopilot is a collection of driver-assist features that includes adaptive cruise control and lane-centering, among other technologies. The automaker warns drivers in its owners manual that Autopilot is not a self-driving system, and that drivers need to remain engaged and aware while using it. The system is available on all of the models it currently sells: the Tesla Model S and Model 3 cars and the Model X SUV.

The updated Autopilot on CR’s Model 3 gave our drivers with hands off the wheel a visible warning at 30 seconds (they were traveling at 65 mph on a nearby restricted-access highway), an audible warning at 45 seconds, and it turned off Autopilot at 60 seconds, locking our drivers out of using the system again until they turned off the car.

This new timing from the update puts Tesla more in line with other vehicles with advanced driver-assist systems that CR has tested, Fisher said.

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The new Autopilot software update that Tesla started to roll out last week features some improvements in performance as promised by CEO Elon Musk. But now, owners are also finding out that Tesla significantly increased the “nag” to force drivers to keep their hands on the wheel .

Tesla drivers are asked to “ keep [their] hands on the steering wheel at all times,” and “be prepared to take over at any time.” Not only is treating autopilot like self- driving extremely dangerous but with every Tesla crash comes greater scrutiny of whether

But Fisher pointed out that Autopilot still does not address the issue of inattentive drivers fooling the system by simply tugging the steering wheel for a moment to turn alerts off and avoid a shutdown.

Cadillac's Super Cruise system, for example, which is another suite of driver-assist technologies, uses cameras to monitor where the driver is looking, and will issue warnings based on that information.

Drivers using Super Cruise can keep their hands off the wheel for extended periods, but they also must pay attention to the road. The system only works on pre-mapped, restricted-access highways.

In Teslas with Autopilot, drivers don't face those restrictions.

a close up of a car © Provided by Consumer Reports

In the fatal March crash of a Model X SUV on a freeway in Mountain View, Calif., 38-year-old Walter Huang engaged Autopilot several times during his trip, and it was still engaged when the SUV crashed into a freeway median, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released last week.

Autopilot was on for roughly the final 19 minutes before the crash, the report said. In that time, “the vehicle provided two visual alerts and one auditory alert for the driver to place his hands on the steering wheel. These alerts were made more than 15 minutes prior to the crash,” the NTSB report said.

Another Autopilot Crash Highlights the Limitations of Driver-Assist Systems

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PALO ALTO, California — Tesla Motors rolled out its highly anticipated " Autopilot " automated driving program for the Tesla Model S sedan and upcoming 2016 Model X SUV, but warned drivers to " keep their hands on the wheel ."

Model S driver had hands on steering wheel for 25 seconds during a 37-minute period. Following the May 2016 accident, Tesla announced a new update in September to help keep drivers from using autopilot if they don't respond to in-vehicle safety warnings.

David Friedman, director of cars and product policy and analysis for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, says it's unclear if the new Autopilot update would have prevented that Model X crash.

“It is not clear that this change would have altered the outcome of recent high-profile Tesla crashes," he said. That's because, at 60 mph, a car could travel a half-mile in the 30 seconds before the Tesla would flash a warning, he said.

In the Mountain View crash, Huang’s hands were off the wheel for the last six seconds before impact, the NTSB said. “Even if alerted, given what research has found, it can take drivers several seconds to retake control and safely deal with a situation,” Friedman said. “Drivers have to not just see what’s coming but also understand it, and react to it.”

Tesla’s update comes after repeated calls from Consumer Reports for the car company to improve the safety of the Autopilot system.

The automaker says that more changes are coming to Autopilot. Over the weekend, CEO Elon Musk promised on Twitter that, with an update scheduled in August, “we will begin to enable full self-driving features.” After CR reached out to the automaker, a Tesla spokeswoman declined to specify what those features are or a timeline for when they would roll out.

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CEO Elon Musk suggested drivers still need to keep their hands on the wheel : "We're being especially cautious at this early An anonymous Tesla driver didn’t heed Musk’s warning , and filmed the car driving in Autopilot on a Dutch However it’s clear Tesla needs to update its software soon .

Autopilot is only supposed to be a driver -assist feature, and users are encouraged to keep their hands on the wheel , so on paper, this Autopilot update doesn’t change much — in fact, it puts Autopilot in the same category as other driver assist features like GM’s Super Cruise.

That news concerns Friedman. “Given Tesla's track record so far, this news should raise more alarm bells than excitement,” he said. “Tesla should provide detailed test data and get the safety of these new features evaluated by an independent third party before rushing it out across tens, and perhaps hundreds, of thousands of cars across the U.S. and the world.”   

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Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2018, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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Tesla Autopilot to get ‘full self-driving features’ in August .
Tesla's Autopilot driver assistance system will get full self-driving features following a software upgrade in August. Autopilot, a form of advanced cruise control, handles some driving tasks and warns those behind the wheel they are always responsible for the vehicle's safe operation. But a spate of recent crashes has brought the system under regulatory scrutiny."To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features," Musk tweeted on Sunday, replying to a Twitter user.

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