Opinion: The Washington Post Catches Up to the Perils of Self-Driving

As much as I am a news junkie, I do try to disconnect a bit on weekends. Yet, this past Sunday, I had an hour to kill and a smartphone by my side, so I perused the headlines of our major newspapers.

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California Tech Mogul Launches Senate Run to Destroy Tesla

Dan O’Dowd, the billionaire founder and CEO of Green Hills Software, has announced he’s running for the U.S. Senate and his campaign has a single platform — destroy Tesla Inc.

“Today I launched my campaign for U.S. Senate to make computers safe for humanity. The first danger I am tackling is @ElonMusk‘s reckless deployment of unsafe @Tesla Full Self-Driving cars on our roads,” O’Dowd tweeted on April 19th.

The tweet was accompanied by a 60-second advertisement that showed clips of various Tesla vehicles equipped with the contentious software nearly striking pedestrians and making other mistakes in traffic while a disembodied voice explains does its utmost to make you feel like Tesla is an evil company that wants its cars to kill people.

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Tesla CEO Says Cybertruck, Semis, & Robots Coming in 2023

Last night, Tesla held a “ Cyber Rodeo” to celebrate the Gigafactory that’s opening in Austin, TX. The invitation-only event saw thousands of attendees, fireworks, a drone light show, Elon Musk in a cowboy hat, and a list of manufacturing promises so long that you almost have to believe that one of them will actually come true.

Among these were claims that Cybertruck would undoubtedly enter into production in 2023, along with the similarly delayed electric semi and Roadster. The CEO also touted Tesla’s often-criticized Full Self Driving (FSD) as poised to revolutionize the world after its public beta test is expanded later this year. Robotaxis are also said to be in the works and a humanoid robot, named Optimus, will help usher in “an age of abundance.”

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NHTSA Looking Into Tesla Vehicles Over 'Phantom Braking'

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced it is investigating 416,000 Tesla vehicles after receiving 354 individual complaints of unexpected braking.

America’s largest purveyor of all-electric vehicles was forced to cancel its push of version 10.3 of its Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software last fall after receiving reports that it was creating problems for some users. Drivers were complaining that the update had created instances of phantom braking after the vehicle issued false collision warnings. However, things only seemed to get worse as complaints to the NHTSA grew more frequent after bumping FSD back to an earlier version.

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Opinion: The New York Times Needs to Get Autonomous Driving Terminology Right

The New York Times often gets unfairly criticized, usually by readers who have their own political biases (right and left), but sometimes the criticism lobbed its way is not only very fair, but accurate.

And when it comes to autonomous driving, the vaunted Times has stepped in it, big time.

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Tesla Fixes Full Self-Driving Beta Software Issue

Following claims that Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” beta caused some vehicles to experience erroneous forward collision warnings and the automatic emergency braking system stopping cars for no discernable reason, the manufacturer has filed a probable fix with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The recall encompasses 11,700 equipped with FSD beta software version 10.3 that was released on October 23rd. While Tesla says that the vast majority of the vehicles selected to test the new code were already fixed via over-the-air updates, 0.2 percent of the whole still had not been issued a fix as of October 29th. Affected cars include every Tesla model ever made, provided it’s from the 2017 model year or later.

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Tesla Removes Full Self Driving Beta Over 'Issues'

Tesla Inc. pulled its Full Self Driving (FSD) beta off the table over the weekend, with CEO Elon Musk stating that testers had been “seeing some issues with [version] 10.3.”

To remedy the issue, the company has reverted back to FSD 10.2 temporarily. Musk made the announcement over social media on Sunday morning. The following day, he had already promised that version 10.3.1 would be coming out to address problems encountered during the exceptionally short public testing phase.

“Please note, this is to be expected with beta software,” the CEO noted. “It is impossible to test all hardware configs in all conditions with internal QA, hence public beta.”

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Opinion: Tesla's Full-Self Driving Beta Is a Bad Joke

Earlier this week, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would begin offering the Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta to testers that had achieved sufficiently high marks in its new “safety score.” While company has repeatedly promised to launch FSD in earnest, which costs $10,000 to purchase or $199 a month to rent (depending on which version of Autopilot you’re using), the system has been habitually delayed from getting a widespread release. This has upset more than a few customers operating under the assumption that having bought into the service actually meant something.

That said, the rollout has technically begun and continues encompassing more users. But regulators are annoyed that the company is now testing FSD’s functionality on thousands of paying customers and the terms in which Tesla is offering FSD has changed in a manner that makes your author extremely uncomfortable. The automaker originally intended to provide the system via a simple over-the-air (OTA) update as availability expanded. However Tesla now has a button allowing drivers to request FSD by opening them up to a period of scrutiny where their driving is digitally judged. Despite your having already shelled out cash for it, access to the beta is determined by the manufacturer’s safety score.

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Stuck in Reverse? Tesla Abandons Radar, Restricts Features

Tesla is abandoning radar on its more affordable vehicles so it can deploy something that sounds like a vintage color motion picture process where the hues really manage to jump off the screen.

Tesla Vision” is the current process the company will use to collect and interpret the information necessary to operate semi-automated systems on the Model 3 and Model Y. But it feels like a step backward, if we’re being honest, and will result in cars that have “temporarily limited” abilities.

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Authorities Claim No One Was in the Driver's Seat in Tesla Crash

A crash involving a Tesla Model S in Texas killed two passengers.

We say “passengers” instead of “occupants” because it appears there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.

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Ford Introduces 'Hands-Free' BlueCruise System for F-150, Mach-E

On Wednesday, Ford Motor Co. announced its upcoming hands-free driver-assist system intended to rival Tesla’s Autopilot or General Motors SuperCruise. The service, which the manufacturer has renamed BlueCruise, will be available on top trimmed “Mustang” Mach-E crossovers and F-150 pickup trucks via over-the-air-updates in the third quarter of 2021.

It will not be free, however.

Even though Ford has promised highly competitive pricing, customers will need to have purchased vehicles equipped with the necessary hardware (including driver monitoring cameras) before they’ll be eligible to spend the additional $600 Ford is asking for the privilege of using BlueCruise for three years. While more affordable than the competition, it still seems a lot to spend on a vehicle so you can pretend it’s self-driving – especially since the company failed to make it sound like it would be any more advanced than what’s being offered on Tesla and Cadillac vehicles that similarly cannot drive themselves.

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Your Regular Reminder That Fully Self-Driving Cars Don't Exist Yet

While we’re on the subject of Super Bowl commercials, there wasn’t just one, but two, that irritated me on Sunday.

This one has little, if anything, to do with politics, so you can relax and cancel out that angry email you were about to send me.

Nope, this one has to do with the misinformation circulating about autonomous cars.

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Tesla Update Adds Automatic Braking for Controlled Intersections, Results Vary

While we’ve often criticized Tesla Motors’ “Full Self Driving” (FSD) suite for being a $7,000 promise that failed to deliver, the automaker is making moves that might someday force us to eat our words.

Tesla is now releasing a new software update that includes the ability to automatically recognize and slow down for stop signs and traffic lights. CEO Elon Musk mentioned the development in Wednesday’s earnings call, referencing the system as “Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control” that builds on display options added months prior.

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Tesla Places Pointless 'Self-Driving' Option On Hiatus

Tesla Motors is abandoning the “fully self-driving” purchasing option on all of its vehicles. The option debuted in 2016 as a way to ensure your new car would be future-proofed and able to incorporate autonomous features. But those upgrades never really came — leaving customers who spent $8,000 angry enough to file a class-action lawsuit against the company for failing to deliver on its promises. At least they still got those EV tax credits and free access to the company’s fancy new Autopilot chip (which is also a bit of a mystery item).

The option appears to have been removed from Tesla’s website this week — prompting customers to ask CEO Elon Musk what was up after he announced a rejiggering of the Model 3 lineup. According to a tweet from Musk, the self-driving option was removed because it “was causing too much confusion.”

Well, whose fucking fault was that?

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  • Jwee I think it is short sighted and detrimental to the brand. The company should be generous to its locked-in user base, treating them as a resource, not a revenue stream.This is what builds any good relationship, generosity to the other partner. Apple does with their products. My iPhone is 5 years old, but I keep getting the latest and greatest updates for free, which makes me feel valued as a customer and adds actual value. When it is time for a new phone, Apple past treatment towards me certainly plays into my decisions (as did BMW's - so long subscription extracting pigs, its been a great 20 years). Imagine how much good will and love (and good press) Polestar would get from their user base if they gave them all a "68 fresh horses" update overnight, for free. Brand loyalty would soar (provided their car is capable).
  • ToolGuy If I had some space I would offer $800 and let the vehicle sit at my place as is. Then when anyone ever asked me, "Have you ever considered owning a VW?" I would say "Yes."
  • ToolGuy In the example in the linked article an automated parking spot costs roughly 3% of the purchase price of the property. If I were buying such a property, I would likely purchase two parking spots to go with it, and I'm being completely serious.(Speaking of ownership vs. subscription, the $150 monthly maintenance fee would torque me off a lot more than the initial acquisition cost.)
  • ToolGuy "which will be returned as refunds to citizens of the state" - kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund? Make the amount high enough and I will gladly move to California to take advantage (my family came close to moving there when I was a teen, and oodles of people have moved from CA to my state, so I'm happy to return the favor).Note to California: You probably do not want me as a citizen.
  • ToolGuy Nice torque figure.