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Elon Musk: Tesla cars will have “autopilot mode” by summer (nytimes.com)
365 points by rjshade on Mar 19, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 244 comments

Every time Elon Musk makes this kind of announcement, his engineering departments groan.

As I understand, they have folks actively managing Musk trying to prevent him from promising the moon :)

Too late, he promised Mars.

... I opened myself up for that one didn't I :)

Anybody knows if any needed equipment is actually installed in his cars? From what I've understood with Google cars, the cars would need quite a lot things like high tech radars.

They've been including the hardware in the cars since about 3 weeks before they first announced these features earlier this year.

I hate this sentiment. Yes, Elon makes huge promises. And you know what? He frequently gets there. Everyone quoted in the article says "No". Elon says "Why not?" And you're worried about the engineers.

"He" doesn't frequently get there. The engineers get there. Or they don't. If they don't, whose fault do you imagine it is?

You do realize that he co-founded and is running both a successful electric car company and a successful rocket company? And before that co-founded an insanely successful payments company?

He didn't co-found neither Tesla, much less PayPal.

I like him, he has done well but his PR has done even better.

Yes, but he also frequently makes false (or at best incredibly misleading) public statements about how far along they are on such projects. (Source: friend-of-a-friend is one of those groaning Tesla engineers.)

I worked for him directly. That's how he gets amazing stuff done. And clearly it works. If employees aren't up for it, probably best to find something else.

Were you an engineerer or a seller?

PM. So I was on the hook for getting the engineers to deliver the extraordinary requests.


Doxing is not allowed on Hacker News.

WTF? Posting public information is now considered doxxing?

You don't get much more public than a LinkedIn page.

I have committed a faux pas among the cognoscenti. Message received!

The point, though, is that posting someone else's personal details in order to malign them is a breach of the civility HN calls for. I don't see how that could be more obvious. Fortunately, users flagged that comment. Let's have no more of this.

To be clear about this, for future reference: is it doxxing to post the contact information for someone's public office, when speaking to people about their concerns is part of that person's job? (Indeed, even posting this information in anger, per se to encourage "attacking them"—but when the targeted person has encouraged such "attacks", created a separate channel for them, and thinks of receiving them as "just what they do" rather than something scary.)

For example, I don't think I've ever heard it called doxxing when someone puts up the address+phone number of a congressman and encourages people to write in. Nor when someone posts the "personal corporate" email of the CEO of a company to explain how to "go over the heads" of the CSRs of that company or to tell them about how you're boycotting the company.

I don't think doxxing is about contact information, per se; it's more about the line between someone's public and private personas. If someone actually has the equivalent of a public-persona "complaints hotline", then I would think it would be just fine to post that, no?

It's not the definition of the term "doxxing" that makes a post be unclassy.

This information is very easily found from searching based off their username. Is HN actively preventing people from registering with usernames that are on other sites and services? If not, what are the limits and connections between one's username and one's username on other websites? Further, what is the limit between one's username and full name and/or projects that are indexed on every major search engine? Should we not title this post "Tesla CEO" else we dox that individual?

It doesn't matter how easily the information is found.

By "doxing" I meant posting someone's personal details as a way of attacking them. None of us would want that done to ourselves, and we owe the same consideration to others.

Nor is it needed for substantive discussion, which is the purpose of HN threads.

Am I doxxing myself by using my last name as my username, or by putting my real name, current position at my company, and my email address in my profile?

The problem with your golden rule there is that you make assumptions about what other people want.

> Am I doxxing myself by using my last name as my username, or by putting my real name, current position at my company, and my email address in my profile?


But it's clear that the term "doxxing" (which I've never used before and apparently can't even spell) is a giant distraction. How about we just stick to the point about no personal attacks.

I just didn't see what happened above as a personal attack. He referenced his professional experience and someone provided evidence of that career.

But you're right, this is hardly an important issue to me and we could go on about "doxxing" for days, so I'll consider my peace made.

For what it's worth I read the tone of the comment quite negatively. So did the person that made the comment, given that they used a throwaway.

This is exactly what I was getting at, glad someone else saw that. I didn't see posting relevant credentials that are easily found through usernames containing PII to really be doxxing because it's "self-doxxing", and the fact that those credentials are relevant to the discussion.

This is the problem I have with HN moderation, they have rules that they selectively enforce but it's all built on their heuristics which they never flesh-out. Neither of us can go to a page on HN and run through a checklist to determine if content in a post will or will not be considered flaggable/bannable because it's a "closed source heuristic" if you will. There are guidelines sure, but the enforcement seems very wishy-washy and selective.

Afaict it's like, be a decent person, or at least try. Not sure why that's a problem.

He said "as a way of attacking them." Are you attacking yourself by posting your personal information? No? Then the answer to your question should be obvious.

You're also making the assumption that if you're fine with it then so must everyone else. If we're to do all this assuming, then let's assume on the side of people's privacy.

How? I'm just saying it's not cut/dry. I'm not making any assumptions.

Your statement reads, to me admittedly, that since you put your public info out there that no one should care if someone else outs their info to the public. In context of the discussion.

But you can't dox yourself, in the usual meaning of the term.

The point I'm trying to make is that 'ease of discovery' is indeed a relevant factor here, and furthermore in this specific case the user was citing his professional experience with a username that corresponds to his own.

I'd be willing to bet he's perfectly alright with someone posting his professional credentials on this site. I know I would be (and have, in fact).

So is it really doxxing at all, then?

This isn't a topic I'm all that passionate about, I just wanted to point out the differing opinion.

Doxing public informations ?

If I say that Obama is POTUS, am I doxing him ?

If you listen to his interviews, he qualifies most of his statements, certainly more than 90% of the professional business BSers I know. Definitely he qualifies and hesitates much more than most CEOs, that's probably why people emotionally invest in his statements, they trust he at least performed some critical analysis before spitting out the conclusion or tweet.

What are you trying to accomplish with this line of questioning. Yes, people fail. What's your point?

His original point was that people are crediting Musk with what is actually the success of the engineers working there. The public loves to give credit to figureheads. Naturally, this upsets the people actually doing the innovation who get ignored.

This comes up a lot on various forums.

The more technical the crowd the more you hear this kind of thing but it really does bear mentioning that if these engineers could be doing it without these figureheads then really, they should do that.

They fact that it's plausible has no bearing on the fact that it is often simply not the case.

Why did Apple nearly fail before Jobs return?

Why are Tesla and SpaceX a direct result of one mans vision?

I'm not saying that no one else is involved in these businesses, I don't think anyone is stupid enough to assert that these are not examples of fantastically great organisations made up of brilliant engineers and probably project managers and lawyers and all of the other parts that make up a great companay but yet the fact remains that the 'figurehead' is there.

Why is that if these 'figureheads' serve no purpose other than to court the media?

The more technical the crowd the more you hear this kind of thing but it really does bear mentioning that if these engineers could be doing it without these figureheads then really, they should do that.

This is an oldish thread, but I want to point out that the main reason engineers need figureheads is to attract capital. The second reason is to unify the engineers toward a common goal.

I do believe engineers deserve a lot more credit from society, and also that engineers underestimate the contributions of non-engineers. I feel that the subtly snide way you worded your statement ("really, they should do that") is needlessly derisive to both groups.

You have my apologies for any perceived or actual snark.

I hadn't intended to insult anyone and in terms of derision, I am certainly in no position to be doling it out.

Going back to the comment in question though, it is kind of the crux of the matter as I read it.

There are some posts further up that are very sarcastic about the contributions of these 'figureheads' and my statement to those people stands for itself: if these 'figureheads' are not necessary then do it without them.

I go on to provide very popular examples of where this simply isn't how things work.

Note that I have never even so much as intimated that it couldn't work like that just that it doesn't often seem to.

I will admit that there is perhaps some of my own insecurity slipping in here. As someone with a technical background who now works in a less technical capacity I think I may have taken some of these comments personally and allowed for them to pile onto an already toppling pile of impostor syndrome type thinking.

The fact remains though that to build something you need engineers, you also need architects, you also need someone to bankroll the project. Asserting that one or more of these players are more important that others does seem illogical to me and it would probably take a lot to change that outlook on my part.

That's exactly what I mean. Why state the incredibly obvious? Is there anyone who actually thinks Musk sat there and built the Tesla in his basement? Am I supposed to reach out and personally shake the hands of each engineer?

The engineers "thank you" comes in many forms. The fulfillment of the job. The privilege to work on cutting edge tech. The satisfaction of their customers. Their salary and so on and so forth.

> The fulfillment of the job


> The privilege to work on cutting edge tech


> The satisfaction of their customers

> Their salary and so on and so forth

Irrelevant, that is/was part of their contract regardless of outcome (otherwise R&D departments wouldn't exist, failure tolerances wouldn't exist, etc).

Musk merely gave directive, he didn't implement or do this R&D on his own. Calling this Musk's success is like saying Einstein design and built the atom bomb thus he is solely responsible for the death of many a Japanese. But society doesn't take that point of view, instead only that he contributed to it, not that he owned it through and through. A good leader leads their subordinates, but they are not the sole factor in their subordinates achieving success. If a leader does not recognize their subordinates, they will soon find they have no subordinates to lead.


All hail King Musk

And a solar energy company. Well technically he helped his cousins start it and serves as the company's Chairman[0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SolarCity

And Zip2. He's at least 4 for 4 and maybe 5 for 5. And these aren't little web sites or mobile apps. Payments ($1.5b), automobiles ($25b), rockets ($10b), solar power ($5b).

Yeah, his record pretty amazing. I mean, even his least successful startup zip2 'only' sold for $300m, earning him a 'measly' $20m, and that was his first one after college.

You can't reach goals you never set. That's how we went to the moon.

It's the engineers' job to resist with good reasoning.

It's the visionary's job to convince them that we people only think the impossible things are impossible.

That's basically how I do my internal dialogue. I shoot down an idea of mine because it's too brittle, vague, and difficult. But I still want to build that something. So, I keep thinking and end up saying to myself, "Well, maybe I could do something that's like an ugly partial implementation, just leaving out the hardest things: it won't be what I want but I can write something that resembles it." And then I write the first prototype and end up having something here to play with. However, I still keep wanting more and maybe I get an insight that allows me, having first played with the first build, to make a better approach with a new set of tradeoffs but such that will get me closer to what I want. Gradually I approach what I want, possibly never quite reaching that point, but still getting closer and closer.

> "It's the engineers' job to resist with good reasoning. It's the visionary's job to convince them that we people only think the impossible things are impossible."

While I don't disagree with you, context matters greatly here. This is the same logic of every middle managing pawn or upper management narcissist who self-styles him or herself the "visionary" you describe. Someone like Musk has the technical aptitude and experience to accurately assess what is technologically possible or impossible and estimate how much it will cost and how long it will take. He has also surrounded himself with highly talented technical people who, from what I can tell, he listens to.

Unless someone has previously envisioned and brought to fruition some visionary product or service, we should remember that the most likely explanation for their insistence that the seemingly impossible is possible is some combination of their ignorance, incompetence, and narcissistic delusion.

Yep, this is the point I was trying to make way upthread. If "the engineers just couldn't do it" is treated as a physical reality due to the objective hardness of the problem, and Musk recalibrates his future time-estimates based on that, great! If "the engineers just couldn't do it" is treated as a failure of the engineers, and people are fired for failing to conform to Musk's rosy estimate, not great!

And the latter is what you'd presume by default of a manager. It might not be true of Musk in particular, but in absence of explicit evidence to the contrary, it's likely, which is why this kind of overeager optimism can be downright scary-sounding coming from a high-level corporate executive.

I have a feeling that, like you said, Musk listens to these people. Maybe he actually knows their potential better than they know it themselves; knows what they can pull off when driven, that they wouldn't think (or especially claim) themselves capable of otherwise. Maybe, in other words, he's like the protagonist of some military ensemble drama series. (Jack O'Neill in Stargate SG-1, say.)

And given how successful he is, maybe he is that guy! Someone's gotta be. But that guy is really rare. Most corporations, sadly, don't have that guy anywhere in them. And without that guy, you've just got unrealistic promises, followed by flops, followed by finger-pointing.

Browning understood Musk's impulse:

“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?”

Robert Browning, from Men and Women and Other Poems

I don't see why they would groan in this particular instance (although I can believe it in general). He's not promising anything in the near-term that doesn't already exist in other shipping cars, or that his own people haven't already demoed.

> Every time Elon Musk makes this kind of announcement

... he does it not because it is easy, but because it is hard!

For his engineers.

Not so much for him.

You're discounting the value of his leadership and company stock.

Wow, I didn't realize they had been building in the necessary sensors all along. To just light this up one day for the existing fleet with an OTA update is nothing short of astounding.

Particularly since they didn't price the cars to include this feature.

I mean, the cars are insanely expensive already. I think they're priced to include plenty.

Teslas are in line with other luxury sedans (of course you may view all of those are insanely expensive). The 60 starts at $64K, cash price counting tax credits, and the P85 is $96K.

Compare that with the starting prices of the BMW 5-series, $50K (base) to $94K (M5). The Porsche Panamera is $78K to $180K starting price. The Model S has been tested against the Mercedes S550, which starts at $94K.

If you look at the performance of the P85D, especially its horsepower and torque, you arguably get far more for your money than you do with any petrol-powered sedan. It's even quicker than the Panamera Turbo.

I prefer lighter vehicles -- the P85D is 50% heavier than my RWD manual transmission'd sports car -- but if I needed a sedan Tesla would now be my default choice.

Tesla performance is astounding - better than many cars that are $250k and more.

Tesla interior/luxury/comfort is astonishingly low. All mid-ranged luxury cars (A6, 5-Series, E-class, etc.) are much, much nicer cars to drive in, and many of the lower end (3 series, C class) have nicer interiors as well.

On the performance point, you're quite right on 0-60 speeds. Electric motors, all-wheel drive, and smart launch control will give you excellent times.

On a track, though, where weight and handling matter so much, I wonder what the performance would be. The Tesla Model S (Performance Model) and the Tesla Roadster have essentially the same lap time around Laguna Seca as a humble VW Golf and Ford Focus -- and all four are comfortably beaten by a $30K Subaru WRX STi. Source: http://my.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/model-s-laguna-seca-l...

Now that was likely not the P85D, but that model's extra performance will be offset by the extra 300lbs and curb weight of approximately 5000(!) lbs. It may be helped by a more even front/rear weight distribution and AWD. (I admit I've spent the last three days on the track at Laguna Seca, so I may be overly fixated on lap times...)

This is not to take away from Tesla's remarkable accomplishments in such a short time. The P85D is an amazing car.

Track times are irrelevant achievement for 99% of people here (or anywhere), general handling performance not so much. Not only makes it driving experience much more pleasure, it also increases safety (in those crazy split-second-maneuvers situations which might end up in car crash if things go wrong). It also increases general stability of vehicle, and so on.

My personal opinion - this is clearly future. I am glad for early adopters, to support this trend and this particular "disruptive" company, to benefits of us all and our kids.

Present - not so much for me. I run 10 year old 3-litre diesel bmw 3-series, which was dirt cheap few years ago, and costs me nearly nothing to run (oil & xenon light bulbs change). Various state and insurance fees are most of expenses. These cars cannot compete on this segment (higher-middle class sedans), not in fun factor (ie that handling), not in price, not in reach - living in europe, I go quite frequently to road trips of several thousand kms... good luck with charging car along in present europe. It happened to me a few times I almost ran out of gas on remote german highways!

So far, it's luxury city car for me, with vast future potential. As for why I should need a luxury city car, I have no clue...

The Model S actually doesn't do well on a track at all. Not because of any weight/handling issues (i'm actually not sure about how it handles), but because of overheating.

The electric motors can't dissipate heat that quick, and if the engines are run at "full throttle" for too long it will slow performance significantly to keep from overheating.

In reality this means you can't really complete a lap or 2 of most tracks.

Ah, you're right. Thanks! Here's a story that describes the problem (and an unsuccessful ice bath attempt):

http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/oneyear/alternative/1404... I coincidentally spoke with a Tesla engineer and explained what had happened. "What you need to do is put the car in something like a big meat locker," he suggested. "Cool it way down first."

Funnily enough I just and a little look and I think the Tesla should just about have more range on one charge than a 2015 STI with a full tank of fuel (15.9 US gal). Though I don't know if I mixed up uk and us gal.

I am sorry but You just can't compare tesla model s with Mercedes S class in terms of comfort - that's the biggest reason why people purchase an s class merc. In terms of interior quality and ride comfort I can only compare tesla to Toyota camry or Nissan maxima at best. Bmw, Mercedes never mind Porsches are miles ahead in comfort/interior quality departments.

How reliable are Teslas compared to Mercedes S class?

Not that being more reliable than a luxury automobile is a huge achievement:


Huge number of features = more to go wrong.

Cutting edge tech = higher risk. (can be mitigated with engineering discipline)

Small production runs = less time to debug production process, which is a 2 edged sword: higher production costs and more built-in defects.

Idiom-related quibble: a "double edged sword" typically refers to something that is both an asset and a liability.

Higher production costs and more built-in defects are two liabilities. A suitable alternative in this case would be a "double whammy". More on that idiom: http://english.stackexchange.com/a/132063

"Huge number of features = more to go wrong"

You do realize that this is a good argument for the Tesla, right? An electric drivetrain is much simpler than a gasoline one, and in a crazy features battle, the S Class trounces a Tesla.

I heard this from Musk before, on first sight it makes sense. BUT - most current failures in cars are not components that are around for 100 years - these are usually fine if regular service is done. What fails miserably in new cars are all kinds of tech gimmicks that improve significantly with every new generation. The only exception might be turbo charged petrol engines, but they are around for a while too.

In my personal experience, what breaks on cars is run of the mill stuff that's been around for a long time, like tie rods, brake roters, the exhaust system, et cetera.

One of the more expensive and annoying repairs I had to have done was the end of my parking brake cable snapping off when I pushed on the pedal. A few cents of metal turned into many hundreds of dollars because the whole cable had to be replaced and it was routed stupidly requiring a lot of labor to disassemble and reassemble stuff. I dare say that cables and their attachments have been along much longer than 100 years.

Other mundane repairs include tie rods, exhaust system leaks, and premature brake rotor wear.

On the other hand, in a decade of car ownership (not a huge amount of time, to be sure) I never once had to repair anything relating to the newer features of the car like remote entry, computerized engine control, digital entertainment system, etc. Even on my 2005 GM, which was not the best year for that manufacturer, it was the boring, old, "proven" systems that needed attention.

I now own a Model S and my maintenance/repair worries are almost all about the boring mechanical bits. I already had a sunroof problem where it got jammed (fixed well and without hesitation under warranty, of course) and when I feel like worrying about stuff on the car breaking, I worry about the little motors for power seats or door handles failing, or the hardware that holds the wheels on starting to bend. The fancy systems like the autopilot stuff seem to have nothing that's likely to fail.

I honestly wasn't trying to profile for or against Tesla or Ultra-High End luxury. They both may face the same problems.

> of course you may view all of those are insanely expensive

Maybe I'm just cheap, but I do think those are all insanely expensive. Even $64k is more than twice the median annual income in the US, and $78-180k will buy you a decent house in most places that aren't SF/LA/DC/NY.

I can't imagine ever wanting to spend that much money on a depreciating asset that's only major benefit over a $10k Honda Civic is as a status symbol.

I do hope that Tesla succeeds in eventually creating affordable, mass-market electric cars, but it's hard for me to get that excited by their current lineup which serves mainly to help rich dudes feel smug about helping the environment.

depreciating asset that's only major benefit over a $10k Honda Civic is as a status symbol.

Some people think that driving is fun and think of having a car that is fun to drive as a major benefit.

but then you don't go for tesla for proper fun drive, do you ;)

A Fiesta ST for $22k would meet the "fun to drive" mark.

But let's say you want to hit multiple marks simultaneously.

I want:

- Comfortable for large people to sit in (I'm 190cm tall).

- Can carry a decent number of people (five being a minimum, more is better... this is why I rejected the Volt as my last car).

- Can carry a decent amount of cargo in addition to 5+ people (this is why I rejected the Ford C-MAX).

- Good fuel efficiency. Prius-level fuel efficiency at a minimum, pure electric is better.

- Good reliability. (Generally the case for most options out there these days, but still important.)

- Good crash safety.

- Fun to drive.

- Affordable.

I'm not too familiar with the Fiesta, but from what I know, it'll hit three of these (fun, reliable, affordable). My last car was a Prius v, which mostly hit all of them except for "fun" (comfort was a bit marginal, there was more than enough room but the seating position was a bit awkward for the driver). When I could afford it, I moved up to the Model S, which hits all marks except for "affordable," and hits most of them better: I can carry 7 people if two of them are small (and they usually are), fuel efficiency is way better, crash safety is among the best, and it's a ton of fun to drive.

It is insanely expensive, and I wish it were cheaper so more people could buy them. But to me, it's worth it.

> Teslas are in line with other luxury sedan

Yes but their interior, one of the most important parts of a luxury saloon car, is terrible quality. I've been in nicer vans.

The pricing includes R&D costs for the next, cheaper model. That's the basics of Tesla's strategy - start with high-end, let the rich bankroll the neccessary work to bring electric cars to the masses.

Don't you need to buy the $4250 "Tech Package With Autopilot" to get this feature? It seems like that includes the various sensors for lane keeping and automatic cruise control. Or maybe every car includes the sensors, and you are just paying for the software?

That last bit is precisely how it is. The hardware is there on all cars sold after mid-September 2014. The software features are divided semi-arbitrarily into "convenience" and "safety" features. All cars get "safety" features, but you have to pay extra for the tech package to get "convenience" features.

This was announced to somewhat of a failure a few months back – there was a big stock rally leading up to the announcement and a big crash afterwards because people didn't seem to get it, that some significant number of existing Telsas were going to be self-driving.

Perhaps the fact that the tech was already built into sold cars - cars that have already impacted Tesla's bottom line - was not an attractive thought for investors.

As an investor, typically, you want sales to increase more rather than increase less.

Using these sensors is cool, but not so different from what other car companies are doing (Ford, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, ...?).

It seems Google is the "odd one out" relying on primarily on different hardware (LIDAR).

Exactly my thoughts as well.

I'm not positive on this but I believe Tesla either uses technology or licenses patents directly from Mercedes-Benz regarding their whole "self-driving" and "autopilot" marketing here.

Case in point: my current car does a variety of self-driving tasks such as:

- Autonomous braking

- Active lane keeping assist to steer you in the lane if the radar and cameras detect you are swerving

- PRE-SAFE collision prevention plus that will autonomously brake if it detects an imminent impact

- Pedestrian awareness system that will autonomously brake if it detects a pedestrian is entering the range of the long, medium and short range radar

- Distronic Plus that will accelerate and brake according to both the vehicle in front and behind you from 0 mph up to 100mph

- Attention assist that employs various sensor to detect drowsiness and alert the driver audibly and via haptic feedback if it's time to take a break.

- Active blind spot assist that will audibly, visually and via haptic feedback alert the driver that a car has entered your hotspot and prevent you from entering that particular lane

So while the Tesla camp is and should be excited about "self-driving" enhancements, Mercedes-Benz has been doing this for well over 2 years now with some of the technology above even becoming standard features on non-high end Mercedes vehicles such as the S-Class with the appropriate packages.

I don't really see much but hype with respect to Tesla's announcement.

Good link here: http://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/benz/safety

I had an '88 Korando with blind spot assistance. It was a $5 option, self install. I put a convex mirror on in addition to the flat ones.

"standard features on non-high end Mercedes vehicles such as the S-Class with the appropriate packages."

The absurdity of this statement is amazing. Apparently Mercedes has brainwashed it's owners into a new definition of "standard".

Yeah, there are some COTS parts available for various autonomous driving functionality. My Ford fusion does pretty much all of the above, and I do not think Ford implemented everything themselves, and the sensors look very similar to various other implementations from different auto manufacturers.

Your Ford certainly doesn't do even most of the above. Your Ford has pedestrian awareness and active lane departure systems? It has radar to brake and accelerate during traffic? Definitely not.

Yes, it has lane assist(this is resistive rather than active, it stiffens the steering wheel making it harder to move in a direction that leaves the lane, rather that correcting coarse actively), active breaking (with adaptive cruise control, light/sound alerts otherwise) for collisions with car, terrain and pedestrian.

It also has blind spot sensor, adaptive cruise control, driver wakefulness alerts. It's adaptive cruise works beautiful, but unfortunately is designed to cut out below 10 MPH, which is a bit annoying in stop and go traffic. It does do automated parallel parking as well, and it rocks at that, it parks in spots I wouldn't dare.

It really strikes a good balance between relying on human and computer-assist.

Also, I think you have a strange definition of "certainly".


Many (most?) Ford models have had adaptive cruise control available as an option for years.

The Mondeo also got pedestrian awareness in Europe for 2015.

The attitude in your comment is strange considering that the grandparent post you wrote specifically points out that this technology is licensable between manufacturers. Why would Ford not be buying the same modules everyone else is?

There's quite a few manufacturers that have this technology other than Mercedes

Not all of it, some of it - yes. In particular, the Blind Spot assist systems are prevalent in a few different manufacturers.

The more advanced "self-driving" systems are all Mercedes-Benz technology that is part of their high-end vehicles (and not a standard option). Remember, Mercedes-Benz holds over 80,000 patents on this stuff and more coming all the time. There's no doubt they are pioneers in vehicle safety systems including self-driving cars.

Edit: Mercedes-Benz actually omitted quite a few even more advanced "self-driving" features from their new S-Class since, even though the technology was ready, regulatory requirements and drivers themselves were not ready for pure self-driving vehicles. (Taken from an intervew with Marc Andreessen on the new technologies in the S-Class).

Well, just glancing at Volvo's website, their V40 car has Imminent impact braking, pedestrian collision avoidance, active cruise control (same as distronic plus), lane keeping assistance and blind spot assist.

Additionally they have automatic parking.

Missing from this is only the driver alertness detection.

EDIT: relevant link http://www.volvocars.com/uk/explore/pages/innovation-areas.a...

MB have been working on this stuff for decades.

Often they develop these things in conjunction with a supplier like Bosch. They then get a period of exclusivity and then Bosch/whoever are free to sell the systems to other companies.

That's why you can look at an S-Class and figure out what's going to be in an ordinary car in 10 years time. ABS, Airbags, pre-tensioners, stability control, adaptive cruise-control - not all were MB inventions or even debuted on an S-Class, but all have been features of an S-Class long before everything else.

I believe they all get it from mobileye with some manufacturers getting an exclusive license for some period of time.

Nope. They built it themselves.

S-class is a high end Merc, but these features are also on the new 2014 C-class.

"self-driving car" and "car capable driving itself on highway under optimal conditions" are 2 totally different things. The real excitement comes when I can tell my car to go pick up the kids from school or drop me off at the airport and then drive itself back home. Anyways this is a great step in the right direction but its not the game changing tech we're all waiting for.

I bought a new car in Sept 2014. It uses radar to do adaptive cruise control all the way down to stop and go. It also uses camera's to sense the lanes and steer to keep lane. Also handles emergency braking and people cutting me off.

So basically, I choose the on-ramp and off-ramp and the car does the rest on the highway. I feel like it's the midpoint between a manual car and an autonomous car.

After a few months of using this every day, driving in a normal car feels different than it used to. It's like driving a manual instead of an automatic.

The car is a fully loaded 2015 Chrysler 200C.

Yep! I made the same call the 200C is the only car in that price range that offers full stop and go with active lane keep. I use it all the time and is easily the best feature on any car I've ever driven.

I believe some of the new Jeeps also have the new system but not sure if it does lane keep also.

Just curious, do you still keep your eyes on the road with adaptive cruise control? Or do you tend to do other things?

Mentally it's less stressful to get behind another car and just let the computer control the speed and distance the whole way. You stop caring if they are going 55 or 77. I just sit there and listen to podcasts. I stay alert though, and I've avoided the urge to read or something.

It would be an interesting experiment to measure actual alertness and ability to react.... I would hazard that while you think you might be alert you're probably less so as because you're not actively driving your brain is not ready to react in the same way as if it's constantly processing while driving.

Case in point - I've got two cars, our boring diesel daily driver and 380hp:600kg track day weapon which you really have to be mentally prepared to drive (no driver aids at all). Headed to the track one Saturday morning in said track car, a car in front of me pulled out of the lane to avoid a big a-- bird in the road. Partly because I have to be alert in that car and partly the car itself I managed to treat the bird more like an obstacle course and (narrowly) avoid it. The dumb thing started running off the road then back into my lane(!). Anyway the point is in my Corolla no way would I have reacted in time, while I think I'm conscientious I know my alertness level is way higher in the track day car - it's low, small, has a brutally fast steering rack - a single moment of inattention you'd get away with in Corolla would see you in the ditch in the other car. 3 hours drive in both cars and one of them I'm pretty happy to have a little break afterwards!

A byproduct of the environment, I think autonomous cars/controls are going to reduce the level of awareness and concentration and you'll have some pretty nasty "I don't know what happened" crashes when things happen that the systems can't respond to and human has to drive out of it.

Of course the flip side of the coin, and I can fully appreciate is the reduction of crashes where people doze off and plough right into the back of other cars. So I guess it's a risk reduction numbers game of which is the lesser of two evils?

I read something a while back where a rental company trialled renting cars with the emergency stop option - to stop, as you say 'people going to sleep and plowing into the back of cars'.

The results were surprising even to them I think - the crash rate went way, way down. Seems that a ton of accidents are of the 'I wasn't paying attention in traffic' type.

As the driver of a sports car and a luxo barge, I totally agree with you about the different levels of alertness required. It's not until you get out of a sports car do you realise how much you were concentrating. I think it's mainly the bumpier ride and the twitchy steering that forces focus. You're essentially never, ever driving with two fingers on the wheel.

I was thinking of a similar possible problem during my commute this morning, not with automated driving but with automatic equipment and systems in general. Does convenience breed mental laziness and/or decay? In our increasingly automated and comfortable existence, what experiences confront us with the need for high focus and alertness, or systematic problem solving? (Speaking of humans in general, not just engineers and other professionals who benefit from this kind of activity in their work.) So many things have been reduced (usually delightfully so) to point, click and enjoy.

Some physical environments for advanced age folks are designed with features to promote extra physical exertion, to help maintain the occupants' fitness, which in turn promotes safety. (Better balance, fewer falls.)

Similarly, we might consider building-in a baseline requirement of mental activity for the operation of certain systems. In the short term, this might increase alertness in the moment, as in the semi-autonomous driving example. (In that case, perhaps a UI that requires maintaining a certain amount of eye motion across the road, or particular posture.) In the long term, perhaps other (more challenging?) in-built exercises will promote mental and neurological health in people whose work and play would otherwise fail to be stimulating.

There was an article about crash statistics on roads that used to be surrounded by tree lanes [1]. There were as many accidents with or without the trees. Removing the trees avoids the opportunities to crash into them, so now people drive faster and carelessly.

I also think stress, in healthy dose, is necessary. I'd bet heavy on decay as a result of removing it. Until the potential self-driving car future where people won't even have to think about driving and will find other ways to be proactive.

[1] http://a395.idata.over-blog.com/1/74/49/41/SPECIALITES-GOURM...

Same number of crashes, but people can drive faster? That's a win in my book.

Heh, fair point, we have different value systems. I'm for same speed / lower accidents, especially dumber ones. These days speed gets all the rage but in my mind we should aim for lower tempo, more density.

Oh, lower accidents, same speed is also good. Anything that improves on the pareto frontier!

Crash outcomes are worse at high speeds.

That's true. So the sum of outcomes is worse here?

I've been using radar cruise control for a few weeks now (waiting for lane keeping to come this summer as promised!) and I feel much more alert than without it. Obviously it could be an illusion, since the brain is really bad at evaluating itself, but it seems like I'm able to devote more attention to my surroundings and develop better situational awareness when I can stop worrying about the second-by-second job of keeping a safe distance from the car in front of me.

Personally I'll take the 5 edge case crashes a (insert time period) over the 10,000 any day. Not know anything about autonomous vehicles, though, I wonder if the edge case wrecks tend to be less serious simply because the safest choice will always be made in time of doubt I would think.

Do you find this experience pleasant? I mean being behind the wheel, not having anything to do technically, but still having the full responsibility and not being able to dose off or do other things with your eyes than looking ahead for a few hours? Even with podcasts I'd be bored to death I think. I'm glad to live in places where I can just take a train instead, read or even work on the way, and still arrive earlier than if I took the highway.

this is very subjective, but I do find it pleasant, given good car (ie bmw in my case). Even for a full day, but that's obviously tiring a bit. It might come down to personality type - i am not an easy to get bored one, which i consider very helpful in daily matters

I'm interested in the edge cases when the driver stops giving any input to the car (e.x. they fall asleep).

Does it follow the car in front through lane changes? Exits? Sharp turns? What if your car can't safely change lanes to follow?

Does the car attempt to alert the driver, or does it just slow down?

How far ahead does the radar look? What happens if you drive ~65mph straight at a brick wall?

I'm guessing he still keeps his eyes on the road, since poor merging by other drivers could plow into your side, something the active braking won't avoid.

I got a Mercedes E350 with the same thing last year. I got used to those features so fast, it feels like easy-mode driving when the car just wants to stay in the lane and keep the distance of the car in front of.

It does shut off the self-steering after a pretty short while if you don't move the steering wheel, and it doesn't work very well at high speeds, but a traffic jam on the highway is what it's made for.

I'm presuming that local constabularies and insurance companies adore adaptive cruise control.

A whole bunch of cars clocked at 12mph over the limit? That's a bonanza of low-mileage speeding tickets, which is good for police dept. revenue, and good for insurance company revenue, because it doesn't actually change the risk pool in exchange for a nice rate bump.

I had something similar on an infiniti a few years back. Literature on the 200C seems like it has the same "lane departure" protection. I don't recall that ever steering to follow the turns in freeways though.

It will to a certain extent. It's a powerful tug on the wheel and will follow the curve all the way through. You still need to keep your hands on the wheel or it yells at you.

Will one hand do?


Didn't know stop and go was already deployed. I wonder how many people use such a system and thus how trusty it feels. I mean, it's kind of a large field-testing of self-driving car logic subset.

It took me a few days to "trust" the stop and go system. It is very disconcerting at first, especially since it tends to brake later than I normally would - I had to learn to "just let go" and now it feels very natural. With that being said, there are situations where I can clearly see traffic far ahead is stopped and I would need to slow down soon - in these cases the stop and go system doesn't react quite fast enough and ends up breaking way too late (and throws up an emergency brake signal). It doesn't ram into the car in front, but it can be scary.

So yeah, not perfect yet, but in 98% of the cases it's amazing.

I see the systems behavior relies on a little short-sighted data, and even safe, relying on direct neighbor for control isn't optimal and not broad enough compared to our way of thinking.

NVidia went hard on their mobile GPU computer vision system. They could recognize many cars, with this it can detect jams in time.

>in these cases the stop and go system doesn't react quite fast enough and

Wait... you, open an open road going full speed at a traffic jam, just sat back and tested if this was going to stop you in time? Without being sure it was going to work?

I had my foot hovering the brake in case it was going to not stop in time. When I say it "breaks way too late" I mean it comes to an abrupt halt, rather than a gradual slow down like I would normally do. There was no chance it was going to run into the car in front of me, but it wasn't too pleasant for drivers behind me

How about the 2015 Camry fully loaded?

"Mr. Musk said in a conference call that the self-driving technology was “technically capable of going from parking lot to parking lot,” meaning through cities as well. But, he said, Tesla will disable the autopilot when cars are not on highways or major roads, citing safety concerns."

I think the implication here is that the cars are capable of this but they are taking the smaller step out of legal and liability concerns.

With a secondary implication that, were the laws updated and the car's hardware "certified safe", they could theoretically just push a software update to enable last-mile autopilot on the car you already own.

My thoughts exactly. Hopefully it's true.

If that's the case I think it was a good decision. If anything went wrong I feel like the media would love to fixate on it as they did with the car batteries igniting previously.

It makes sense that exactly tesla might not want to be the first company to launch that technology. A major failure would be an existential risk to them (just from publicity and momentum).

He's already stated his desire for Tesla to be the first to market with autonomous vehicles.

With the capability to enable it by just a press of a button at Tesla HQ, he can wait for the last possible moment and still be first.

So what if they're capable? The tech is not available, end of story.

Judging by the article, "under optimal conditions" is an exaggeration. There was no citation of problems during traffic conditions.

My father sits through 2-4 hours of Los Angeles rush hour each day, and this is absolutely a game changer for someone like him. This is stellar.

This is solving the wrong problem. Car self-driving through 2-4 rush hours does not solve the problem. Not having 2-4 rush hours would.

This is the first step to that solution, though - if all cars are self-driving optimally, that 2-4 hours rush becomes much shorter.

Automated cars can in principle make subtle, shockwave-damping decisions in high density flow, zip together neatly at on ramps and make space for lane crossers at off ramps. And bonus, they can also in principle be doing useful things rather than occupying parking lots.

I expect a slow phase change to car-as-public-transport that never stops rolling when it isn't in maintenance.

Way more cars are needed during rush hour than other times, so I think even in the future cars will stop rolling.

I think it is likely that the rush becomes longer

the biggest change would come from carpool adoption

Perhaps make huge autonomous drones that can airlift your tesla from one spot to another, bypassing congested areas.

A drone with that kind of lift sounds hugely expensive to build and operate.

How is my use case a "wrong problem"? I'm providing a legitimate application of this limited technology and you're dismissing it with a distracting, unfounded argument.

I don't know how to solve the problem of having 2-4 rush hours. I do know how to solve the problem of having to manually manage my speed in traffic. It may be "the wrong problem" but it's a problem I face routinely, and a problem I'm delighted to solve for myself.

Get your job to let you work from the car on the way into the office for whatever face time you need, and you're on your way to cutting down the total time devoted to your job/commute.

But we are in a community currently in recoil from remote workers. On HN in the past week I have seen at least half a dozen front page articles about how remote doesn't work or how to do work life balance when remote. If people just cannot function without having their molecules in physical proximity to their bosses molecules you still get stuck with the dumb commutes.

Currently, most offices only need face time ~10-4 most days, but if your driving your out of touch with coworkers in normal business hours which is a hard sell. So often people only get to miss one of those segments either the show up ~10 most days or leave by 4pm most days but not both. Or, they might miss 1-3 days a week depending on meetings etc.

Now, suppose your self driving car let's you work while in the car. So, your still in the office from ~10-4 and get daily face time, but your only working 8-6. From a work life balance that's effectively zero commute time vs a killer 2h each way, with the added benefit that you get to avoid some of the peak traffic times.

The upside is it makes vary long commutes viable, the downside is it's it's vary energy expensive but with electric cars that's far less of an issue.

No to mention things like effective valet parking everywhere.

How much does a driver cost in the US? For well paid tech workers I'm wondering if it would be worth it to have a driver rather than spending X hours driving themselves.

I thought http://ideas.4brad.com/uber-price-la-approaches-robocar-chea... was interesting in that light. In short: as the cost of a ride approaches the cost of operating a privately-owned vehicle, it approximates owning a driverless car.

You're seeing the recoil because it's expanding to place we haven't seen before. The outsourcing and remote trends gained traction in 2002, and despite a lot of failures and false starts, it's growing and reaching places and industries it hasn't been to before, hence the backlash by people and teams that aren't competent with them.

You wouldn't be a remote worker if you're still going in for daily face time.

Tesla already does this to some extent. TACC will go down to a full stop in traffic today, you just don't get the steering part(which isn't hard in stop & go).

It's incredible how less mentally wore down I feel after a long commute when using TACC. Still paying attention but at lot less effort required.

There are already cars that have this feature, he should look into them.

What Tesla is releasing at this stage brings absolutely nothing new to the table.

Absolutely. It's been around for at least a year or two.

My Landrover has this technology as an option as do most brands e.g. BMW, Mercedes.

Tesla is merely playing catch up this in regard.

Did it come as and over the air upgrade for all exisisting vehicles, with a promise of more upgrades along the way, and an even better upgrade of free long distance fueling?

That's probably why he is promising such a short timeframe to release.

And it's also why I'm baffled at all the people talking about how crazy Musk is and how they wish he'd stop promising the moon. This is cool stuff but it is not a moon shot.

The real excitement is when I can put those requests in to a network of public infrastructure and have them executed at roughly the same cost as driving for myself.

And we have our first day, week and month without fatal accidents.

"Mostly self-driving" just seems crazy to me. As soon as the car is able to drive on a major highway, you're going to have "asleep at the wheel" issues, and the car cannot simply hand back control to the driver.

There have been times when I've misjudged my level of tiredness. Drifting out of lane is a good marker that you've screwed up and need to pull over immediately and sleep.

Does Tesla have some way to determine wakefulness or to safely pull over if the driver fails to respond?

If you're so tired that you drift out of your lane then you are beyond the point of when you should have stopped. In such a case, I would rather share the road with Tesla's auto-pilot.

I'm sure the press is going to sensationalize the first accident caused by the auto-pilot, but seeing as it doesn't get tired or drink I bet the accident rate will be far lower then human drivers.

> Does Tesla have some way to determine wakefulness or to safely pull over if the driver fails to respond?

Not sure about Tesla but the technology DOES exist and some cars do currently have it.


Yes, but those ALL work by observing the driver's driving, so that won't work.

Toyota definitely has technology to detect whether the driver is asleep and wake up the driver. (I am not sure if this technology has hit the market yet so I can't comment on what the implementation is)

You can then wake up the driver by actuating the seat or sounding an alarm.

Mercedes-Benz has had this technology for maybe 5 years now.

The car will audibly, visually and via haptic feedback through the steering wheel alert a driver if the vehicle detects they are getting drowsy. Nothing new here.

Trains (which are mostly self driving) have a button the operator must push once in a while to prove he's awake.)

If it's working: http://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/PR20150206.asp... describes a head-on collision between two trains. Apparently a handy new automation feature on one train fooled the vigilance device.

Then there are all the jokes about using a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_bird in situations like that. And then there's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kv9JYqhFV-M to hack the Mercedes ALA.

A co-worker and I were just talking about this. My take on the situation is that this could be partially alleviated if the car were to refuse to get off of the highway until after the driver manually took it out of autopilot. If the driver doesn't respond, skip the exit and stay on the highway sending out alerts until the driver responds.

Not exactly optimal, but I feel it may be the safest route. It would be interesting to see what other strategies people come up with.

It could also just pull over on to the shoulder and activate the hazard lights. It'll probably also sound an alarm in the cabin.

Stopped on a shoulder is quite dangerous. Just staying driving seems better.

With an unconscious and unresponsive driver? Are you nuts?

EDIT: I have seen cars stopped on shoulders all the time. It may be dangerous compared to a parking lot, but this is an emergency situation. The driver is incapacitated and may need medical attention. I'll add that it should do more then run the hazard lights, it should dial 911. To keep driving means the car will run unattended for 200+ miles until the battery runs out.

Not really an unresponsive driver - more like an unresponsive passenger. I bet a lot of people will fall asleep while being driven around.

And if the highway ends?

I envision a not-so-distant future where sleepy drivers wake up 5 states and hundreds of miles away from home. At least with Tesla, drivers might find themselves waking up at a Supercharger.

Turbo boost. As is traditional in self driving cars.

The insurance / responsibility question really shows how moronic bureaucracy has made us.

To rephrase naysayers in a more first degree way: "sure there would be less accidents than when the vehicle is driven by a glorified ape, but for the fewer people still killed or maimed, we wouldn't be sure whom to blaim. So we'll keep killing more of them through ape drivers, rather than rush the paperwork-rethinking trauma".

Eh, a half-dozen really smart companies are pursuing self-driving technology. If it were really a concern enough to keep it off the market, they wouldn't continue working on it.

An interesting implication of that statement is that all the hardware to make this functionality work is already in the vehicle if it's just a software update.

Why, yes, this blog posting from October 10, 2014, said that:


> Every single Model S now rolling out of the factory includes a forward radar, 12 long range ultrasonic sensors positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction at all speeds, a forward looking camera, and a high precision, digitally controlled electric assist braking system.

Does anyone know how their system might compare to the spinning Lidar thingamajigs Google uses on their cars?

The lidar that google uses provides a huge amount more information. Add that to the detailed maps that the google vehicle uses and it's pretty clear that these vehicles aren't really trying to do the same thing. Google's trying to handle fully driverless operation but Tesla's going for a more immediately commercializable middle ground.

It's my understanding that Lidar is a lot more sensitive to bad weather

Here is an article comparing sensor types: http://www.templetons.com/brad/robocars/cameras-lasers.html

It's not likely that this "autopilot mode" is close to the state of the art. See for example what kind of technique Audi has put into their prototype A7:


I can't believe Tesla has all these sensor already build in.

Plus Audi, Mercedes, etc. have all enormous experience in vehicle dynamics, which is critical in handeling automatic reactions like full braking and sudden fast steering at higher speeds.

The critical part is what does so car do if it requests driver interaction but the driver does not response. Brake? On a highway?

Autopilot will come, but not in the three month. That's just hilarious.

You're right that "autopilot" isn't the state of the art anymore. It's just radar cruise control and automatic lane keeping. The radar cruise control feature is already available in the Model S, and has been for a couple of months. Lane keeping is the missing piece. You can buy cars right now with automatic lane keeping, and Tesla has demoed it extensively in their cars, so there's no real doubt about it coming soon to Tesla.

Three months is "hilarious" for a feature that's already been commercialized by others and has been shown to be nearly done in Tesla's implementation? How do you figure?

It looks like Tesla is just trying to play catch up with some other companies. Volvo already has a car with self driving technology, Chrysler also has a very good near-self-driving system.

As mentioned elsewhere, this will be rolled out as an OTA update, people wont have to replace their cars for this

Only cars made since late 2014: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/dual-motor-model-s-and-autop... , so most current Tesla owners would have to upgrade.

This announcement is quite bubbly, IMO. Many luxury automakers have had the capability for "highway autonomy" in the way Tesla seem to describe for several years now: see this reckless Infiniti driver https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY_zqEmKV1k .

The "parking lot to parking lot" capability would be truly interesting (as city driving presents a lot of interesting problems that aren't just "follow lines and traffic") but as there's no announced timeline for it, there's no sign Tesla are actually ahead of the numerous other automakers working on the same capability.

What is the sensor package being leveraged here?


Forward radar, forward camera, 12 long range ultrasonic sensors with coverage in "every direction at all speeds".

To Musk, highway speeds are not the challenge; the complexity of the landscape is. “Highway cruise is easy, low speed is easy, it’s medium that's hard. Being able to recognize what you’re seeing and make the right decision in that suburban environment in that 10 mph to 50 mph zone is the challenging portion.”


Somewhat off-topic, but what are the filesizes like for the OTA updates for the Tesla?

Two points in the article bring up an interesting thought- Will autonomous highway driving make the recharging stops more or less annoying? If you're not actively driving the car, will you have less fatigue and so less need or desire for a 30 minute recharging break every few hundred miles?

On long trips now, is it the driver or the passengers who are more interested in rest stops?

Depends on the drivers and the passengers. But there's a difference between a 5-10 minute restroom stop and a 30 minute recharging stop.

Random thought- the drivers on long distance trips self-select for people who like to keep going.

The difference is small if you take the whole trip into account. Assuming one stop, over 6 hours of total trip time, the difference become less than 5%.

I wonder how much a 10 minute stop charges a Tesla S. Probably a third. Once the superchargers become common enough, you can do several shorter stops instead.

Sounds great, but I'd prefer a simple slow/stop crash avoidance when there is an object slowing/stopped in front of the car. What is he status on that, anyone know?

The Tesla forums on the subject are filled with geniuses advising people to drive better, in lieu of such important safety features.

So torn on this because I fall into the chest beating, love to drive my car set but I also remember how much reading I got done when I was younger and used to use the train to commute.

Having that time back is a very seductive proposition.

What I do wonder though is what's the point of having your own car, if all cars are autonomous then isn't that essentially a tram system? How long would it take before there are established routes and taking your car to a given location is no different to hopping on any one of the other cars that are heading there anyway?

Surely the one of the first businesses to be radically impacted by widespread autonomous vehicles is the taxi industry?

I can't see an outcome where pretty soon it's not just a fancy tramway.

I'm looking forward to summoning my self-driving car from my Apple Watch and living out my childhood Knight Rider fantasies. (I know, only on private property in the early stages -- but still, pretty darn cool.)

Did they already resolve the legal issues on a state by state basis?

Nope, these Teslas will only self-drive on private property. Or if you fall asleep at the wheel.

Source: listened to the call this morning.

According to the article, it will self-drive on "highways and major roads," and the "summon my car" is only for private property.

Maybe it's just adaptive cruise-control combined with lane keeping, and you'll still need to make turns.

The private property restriction is only for Batmobile mode where you summon the car and it drives to you all by itself.

The autopilot / cruise control 2.0 / lean back mode where it handles all the driving on the highway, but you're still behind the wheel.. That's the main thing. I'm also curious whether there are state law issues.

Do they use GPS location to determine private property? Curious if I could get out of the Tesla in my driveway and have it park itself in the (narrow) garage.

That would be a neat feature, pull up to the front of a building on private property release the driver and go find a parking spot.

California and Nevada have already created legal scaffolding for operating autonomous cars. Certainly the legal issues will get very interesting, but I don't think they'll get in the way of the autonomous cars. Just look at how well Uber is doing! Get a product people want, and sometimes the law will bend pretty far.

Does anyone know what my car insurance rate would do if I got a car that will let me nap or read a book on the way to work? That is one major issue I haven't seen addressed.

I don't think insurance companies know how to price it yet. If it works, insurance costs should go down. If it fails randomly, well....

Auto insurance is already insane, I'd love to see this take out the big automakers and the insurance companies with it.

Self-driving cars should come with insurance included, since accidents aren't the owners fault.

You already have the option of paying extra for accidents that aren't your fault. Why would that be free now?

Currently insurance is on the driver, because accidents are their fault. In a self driving car, accidents are the manufacturers fault, so they should have the burden of insurance.

With a self driving car, you're really just a passenger, so you shouldn't need your own insurance to ride in one.

Well, it's pretty clear that the headline is a bait for page views... Anyways, steps in the good direction, but far from the self-driving cars we all have on our minds...

This feature is great. Perhaps once such cars become the majority on the road, traffic flow could be optimized resulting in a faster commute during rush hours.

I am not sure I agree on the two hundred mile threshold, maybe for the family commuter car. however no electric of that range will ever replace the car for trips to grandmas.

let alone the price differential between an equivalent gas powered car is going to have to be a lot closer to justify the limitations of an electric.

You're missing the self-driving feature. Once there are self-driving cars there will be cheap self-driving cabs. That's what you take to grandma's house. And of course the cab can run on gasoline. Or run on electricity and when it runs out of power it stops somewhere you can get some food and a freshly charged cab.

If you can afford a Tesla, you can afford to rent a gas powered car a few times a year, or more likely you just fly when you are traveling that far. And of course in the US it's pretty common for families to have multiple cars, so you could have one electric and one gas car. I agree that it doesn't handle all use cases for a vehicle, but no car does and it would be pretty foolish to try.

Supercharging makes road-trips much more reasonable. 20-30 minute break every ~150 miles.

I'm sceptical that they'll be allowed to deploy this.

But hey -- They should just push the update with a harcoded feature toggle keeping the functionality off. Then the line they tow is "Oops! Someone rooted their car and overrode our safety!"

Why not? Every luxury carmaker has had this level of highway autonomy for quite some time now - here's an example of an Infiniti where the (completely reckless) driver literally gets into the passenger's seat while the car is driving: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY_zqEmKV1k

Most European automakers have systems with similar capability (Audi and Mercedes have systems that even work down to 0mph in traffic) but maintain a "one hand on the wheel" sensor to prevent stunts like this.

The purported "parking lot to parking lot" capability is what's really interesting, but it sounds like Tesla have no timeline to actually deploy it yet.

The Tesla Model S has forward-looking radar, ultrasonic sensors on all sides, and a forward-looking camera. That's marginally enough for automatic driving in routine freeway situations.

That's way more sensors than a human driver enjoys.

I thought self driving cars were 5 years away.

Just add in some built in wifi and you could get a lot of work done while on you are going somewhere.

So basically the intelligent cruise-control that Mercedes developed in the early 90s?

Hmm, I thought Musk would be concerned that his autopilot would try to destroy him.

Over promise, under deliver. The PR machine at work again.

Too late. The latest S-Class Mercedes already has something like this.

Does the autopilot handle bridge inspections?

I love Tesla, but Musk's starting to smell a little like Peter Molyneux -- promising the world and delivering little. Get the Model X out (2 years late and counting...)

If you get past the tremendously misleading headline, you'd see that his statement isn't so crazy. All this article is about is Musk saying that Tesla Model S firmware version 7, out within a few months, will include full "autopilot" functionality, which means traffic-aware cruise control and automatic lane keeping. The former is already enabled (I just used it half an hour ago) and the latter has been demoed extensively and there's no reason to doubt it will ship when claimed.

I don't think that's what the article says. I mean, maybe that's what it actually means, but what it says is the cars will "navigate" themselves. It uses the term a bunch of times. Nowhere does it hint that "navigation" is limited to "not rear-ending the car in front of you and staying in the lane," and I don't think that's the plain reading of "company drivers letting the car navigate the West Coast largely unassisted."

It's certainly not the plain reading of "the self-driving technology was 'technically capable of going from parking lot to parking lot,' meaning through cities as well."

If what all that actually means is "adaptive cruise control + lane keeping," then either the GP poster is right that Musk is overpromising and underdelivering, or the journalist completely misconstrued Musk.

All Musk promised in the near term for autonomous driving is lane keeping. Everything else was either wishy-washy "eventually, someday" or imagined by the article's author.

actually it pretty much does - "But, he said, Tesla will disable the autopilot when cars are not on highways or major roads, citing safety concerns." translation, only on the high, and basically really nice and fancy cruise control that they think can and will eventually do more but not right now.

I don't that comparison is apt. One delayed product is not nearly the same as a long sequence of products that were launched without many promised features.

You've got to have ridiculously unrealistic standards to say SpaceX and Tesla have "delivered little".

In this instance though, it's more of selective delivering. He is still delivering on many of these features and "futuristic updates" just not on 1 specific piece of hardware.

If you think Musk hasn't done anything then you haven't been paying attention.

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