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Tesla's autopilot might be made to work with no driver

Recent tests from consumer reports have shown that Tesla's autopilot feature can be easily tricked.

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April
23, 2021

3 min read

This story originally appeared on ValueWalk

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) said their cars can't drive without a driver behind the wheel, but consumer reports said they actually can. The magazine said it could "easily" get a 2020 Model Y to drive "even if no one is in the driver's seat".

Testing the Model Y.

Consumer reports said Thursday it was driving a 2020 Model Y on a closed test track to see if autopilot could run without someone in the driver's seat. It was said that it could "easily get the car to drive even if no one is in the driver's seat". Consumer reports tricked Tesla's autopilot system by placing a weighted chain on the steering wheel and buckling up the seat belt.

In a statement Thursday, Jake Fisher, senior director of auto tests at Consumer Reports, said that in their test, "the system not only didn't make sure the driver was paying attention – it couldn't even tell if there was a driver." even there. "

The latest tests and reports from Consumer Reports stem from a fatal crash in Texas in which authorities said they were confident no one was behind the wheel. Two people died in the 2019 Model S crash, which rolled off the road and hit a tree and caught fire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are sending teams of experts to investigate the crash.

Tricking Tesla's autpilot

Consumer reports have also found in previous tests that Tesla's autopilot and many other automated driving systems can drive on roads with no lane lines. Musk had tweeted that the system needed lane lines to work.

Fisher explained that any automated system that looks at lane lines can be tricked. For example, they might see something like a strip of tar or a curb as a lane when it isn't. He added that autopilot only needs one track line instead of a double line like other systems do.

Musk also said the data logs they have restored so far indicate that Tesla was not activated at the time of the wreck. He added that the car didn't even have a full self-driving feature. Following Musk's tweet, Texas officials prepared to deliver search warrants to the automaker to obtain its data on the crash.

Tesla is falling behind

Fisher also said that Tesla is lagging behind other automakers like General Motors and Ford that employ technology that ensures the driver is looking at the road. GM, Ford, BWM, Subaru, and others use cameras in their vehicles to track the driver's eye movements and head position and make sure they are paying attention to the road.

GM's Super Cruise system and others will automatically slow down and stop when they sense the drivers are not watching the road. Tesla's system uses steering wheel sensors to detect whether a driver's hands are on the steering wheel.

Tesla is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or the families of their founders.

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