- Last week, in response to a fatal crash involving one of its cars, Tesla announced “What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.” Note: The functionality of Tesla’s Autopilot is more similar to cruise-control than to autonomous control – and requires the driver to remain engaged in the operation of the vehicle.
- Separately, BMW, Intel and Mob
ileye announced they would “make self-driving vehicles and future mobility concepts become a reality. The three leaders from the automotive, technology and computer vision and machine learning industries are collaborating to bring solutions for highly and fully automated driving into series production by 2021 … The goal of the collaboration is to develop future-proofed solutions that enable the drivers to not only take their hands off the steering wheel, but reach the so called “eyes off” (level 3) and ultimately the “mind off” (level 4) level transforming the driver’s in-car time into leisure or work time. This level of autonomy would enable the vehicle, on a technical level, to achieve the final stage of traveling “driver off” (level 5) without a human driver inside. This establishes the opportunity for self-driving fleets by 2021 and lays the foundation for entirely new business models in a connected, mobile world.”
- Regarding Tesla – While the accident was likely caused by the tractor trailer, the technology is still evolving and there will be many challenging risk factors to consider in highway driving.
- Regarding BMW, Intel and Mobileye – Their comments are helpful in understanding that 1) complete driverless vehicles are still several years away and 2) there will be various “levels” of technology solutions to be brought to market..