The Elon mode, revealed to the general public, raises crucial questions about autonomous driving and the responsibility of manufacturers. The American authority in charge of road safety wants to make things clear.
When it comes to automotive innovation and technology, Tesla is often at the forefront, continually pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. But, with great power comes great responsibility (you know the saying). The alleged elon fashionwhich could enable fully autonomous driving without driver supervision, has raised eyebrows and concerns about safety.
THE elon fashion and the NHTSA
A well-known hacker, @greentheonlyhad revealed to the general public the existence of a hidden mode in the software of Tesla equipped with the Full Self-Driving (FSD) function.
This mode, which he called Elon, appears to allow vehicles to operate without driver intervention, which goes against the safety standards advocated by Tesla itself. This discovery raised many questions regarding the potential dangers of such a feature, particularly in a scenario where the driver might be tempted to let the vehicle take full control.
There National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the American authority in charge of road safety, did not remain silent on this subject. In a comprehensive twelve-page letter, although it did not directly respond to the hacker, the NTHSA expressed its concerns about the increasing use of this function, now that it has become common knowledge.
These concerns were amplified by a statement made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in early 2023 suggesting that the hands-free sensing feature could be disabled for some FSD users.
The NTHSA, in its letter, asks crucial questions: how many vehicles have already received this software update? How many have already disabled hands-free detection? And above all, how exactly elon fashion is it enabled? Responses are expected from Tesla by August 25, 2023, or face a heavy daily fine.
Hands-free driving is permitted
It is important to note that the United States already allows partially “hands-free” systems. In Europe too, level 3 autonomous driving has been authorized since July 14, 2022.
Brands like Ford and BMW have already obtained exemptions for their respective systems, bluecruise For example.
However, these systems, like Ford’s, bluecruise, use infrared cameras to continuously track the driver’s attention. If the system detects a deviation of even a few seconds of the driver’s eyes from the road, it immediately triggers a warning. Such technology is put in place to ensure that, even in autonomous mode, the driver remains alert and ready to take back control if necessary.
Also, a major limitation of systems such as bluecruise is that they can only be activated on motorways, where there are fewer variables and unforeseen events than on country roads or in urban areas.
Tesla’s FSD, on the other hand, promises much greater flexibility, allowing it to be activated even in the city. This is almost equivalent to levels 4 and 5 of autonomous driving. Like the system of the Chinese competitor Xpeng.
But, this flexibility comes with its share of controversies. John Bernal, a former test driver for Tesla, has highlighted a potential flaw in Tesla’s driver monitoring system.
In a video demonstration, he managed to fool surveillance by simply using stuffed animals, raising questions about the reliability and robustness of Tesla’s technology.
An FSD V12 which marks a change at Tesla
Last week during a live broadcast which lasted 45 minutes, Elon Musk unveiled the new version 12 of the FSD. Unlike previous versions and competing systems, this new version of FSD aims to control the vehicle solely through neural networks, eliminating dependence on traditional systems.
This step is major, because it shows Tesla’s ambition to fully rely on machine learning and artificial intelligence to manage driving. Elon Musk had even anticipated that, with this update, FSD would exit its beta phase, opening the door to full autonomy of Tesla vehicles during the year.
However, the reality turned out to be different from the ambition: during the test drive, a major incident occurred when the system failed to recognize a red light. Elon Musk had to intervene quickly to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. In short, it’s far from ready.
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