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

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Tue Jan 25 15:44:35 UTC 2022

There is "the letter of the law" and there is "the spirit of the law".  For
example, when the speed limit is 50 MPH, most people will travel at 55
MPH.  The safest speed is "the speed of traffic".  So, if you program a car
to never go over 50 MPH, while it is true that it is not breaking "the
letter of the law", it will be dangerous, and more likely to cause
accidents, as other drivers try to get around you.

On Tue, Jan 25, 2022 at 8:27 AM Dave S via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> https://usa.streetsblog.org/2022/01/12/why-tesla-can-program-its-cars-to-break-road-safety-laws
> *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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