[ExI] Why Tesla Can Program Its Cars to Break Road Safety Laws

Dave S sparge at gmail.com
Tue Jan 25 15:26:37 UTC 2022


*Thousands of Teslas are now being equipped with a feature that prompts the
car to break common traffic laws — and the revelation is prompting some
advocates to question the safety benefits of automated vehicle technology
when unsafe human drivers are allowed to program it to do things that
endanger other road users.In an October 2021 update its deceptively named
“Full Self Driving Mode” beta software, the controversial Texas automaker
introduced a new feature that allows drivers to pick one of three custom
driving “profiles” — “chill,” “average,” and “assertive” — which moderates
how aggressively the vehicle applies many of its automated safety features
on U.S. roads.The rollout went largely unnoticed by street safety advocates
until a Jan. 9 article in The Verge, when journalist Emma Roth revealed
that putting a Tesla in “assertive” mode will effectively direct the car to
tailgate other motorists, perform unsafe passing maneuvers, and roll
through certain stops (“average” mode isn’t much safer). All those
behaviors are illegal in most U.S. states, and experts say there’s no
reason why Tesla shouldn’t be required to program its vehicles to follow
the local rules of the road, even when drivers travel between jurisdictions
with varying safety standards.“Basically, Tesla is programming its cars to
break laws,” said Phil Koopman, an expert in autonomous vehicle technology
and associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University. “Even if [those
laws] vary from state to state and city to city, these cars knows where
they are, and the local laws are clearly published. If you want to build an
AV that drives in more than one jurisdiction and you want it to follow the
rules, there’s no reason you can’t program it up to do that. It sounds like
a lot of work, but this is a trillion-dollar industry we’re talking about.”*

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