Engineers trick Tesla Model Y to drive on Autopilot sans driver on the seat

Photo: Reuters

As Tesla faces several fatal crashes in the recent past that has put its Autopilot mode in scrutiny, engineers at Consumer Reports engineers have easily tricked a Tesla Model Y to drive on the electric carmakers driver assistance feature, without actually anyone in the drivers seat.

During the drive, Tesla Model Y automatically steered along painted lane lines, but the system did not send out a warning that the driver's seat was empty.

The engineers tricked Tesla vehicle by placing a small, weighted chain on the steering wheel, to simulate the weight of a driver's hand, and slid over into the front passenger seat without opening any of the vehicle's doors, because that would disengage Autopilot, the report said on Thursday.

Using the same steering wheel dial, the engineers reached over and was able to accelerate the vehicle from a full stop.

"In our evaluation, the system not only failed to make sure the driver was paying attention, but it also couldn't tell if there was a driver there at all," says Jake Fisher, CR's senior director of auto testing, who conducted the experiment.

"Tesla is falling behind other automakers like GM and Ford that, on models with advanced driver assist systems, use technology to make sure the driver is looking at the road."

Last week, two people were killed in a fiery Tesla crash in Texas with no one in the driver's seat. The fatal crash is under investigation.

Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told Houston television station KPRC 2 that the investigation showed "no one was driving" the fully electric 2019 Tesla when the accident happened.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted earlier this week that data logs recovered from the crashed Model S "so far show Autopilot was not enabled".

Musk argued that it would not be possible to activate Autopilot on the road where the crash took place because of the lack of "painted lane lines".

Fisher, however, found that the Tesla car "drove up and down the half-mile lane of our track, repeatedly, never noting that no one was in the driver's seat, never noting that there was no one touching the steering wheel, never noting there was no weight on the seat".

"It was a bit frightening when we realised how easy it was to defeat the safeguards, which we proved were clearly insufficient," he was quoted as saying.

There have been at least 23 Tesla Autopilot-related crashes, currently under investigation by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Tesla had cautioned that Autopilot is not an autonomous driving system and requires a driver's constant attention.

--IANS

na/


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel