An update to Tesla's Autopilot software earlier this month has caused headaches for drivers of its electric cars – with one user alleging he was almost driven off the road by the robotic assistant.
The patch, 2018.21.9, contained a number of tweaks to address safety concerns with the Autopilot software, which Tesla trumpeted as the first step on the path to fully self-driving cars.
Users, unfortunately, have often bought into the dream a little too wholeheartedly and failed to read the small print. Drivers should keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road – because Autopilot isn't an actual autopilot. It's more of a jumped-up cruise control at this stage.
Due in part to some high-profile incidents caused by users relying a little heavily on their electronic buddy-under-the-hood, the new software now nags drivers every 30 seconds to keep their hands on the wheel.
Drivers have found this somewhat vexing, with one getting an explanation from His Muskiness himself:
Sigh. This is crux of matter: can’t make system too annoying or people won’t use it, negatively affecting safety, but also can’t allow people to get too complacent or safety again suffers. Latest update should have a positive effect on latter issue especially.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 10, 2018
However, users in Tesla's own forums have had an altogether more alarming experience, with one UK driver claiming that his 2018 Model S tried to swerve off to one side on an A road (a two-lane undivided highway for our readers abroad).
Poster "justin" shared:
On an 'A' road drive today in dry, clear weather using Autopilot on a stretch of straight, clear, flat well marked road at 40mph the car suddenly and for no apparent reason tried to swerve off the road sharply, I had to grab the wheel (my hands always rest lightly on the wheel while AP is engaged) quickly to get the car back on track. This happened twice 45 minutes apart in similar conditions
Other Tesla drivers soon chimed in with similar experiences since the software update was installed.
In between complaining about the media being horrid to him, Musk has promised an August update to Autopilot with fixes. The update would also ominously signal the beginning of a rollout of "full self-driving".
Wisely, Musk did not give a timeline for when totally autonomous Teslas would be roaming the roads.
That issue is better in latest Autopilot software rolling out now & fully fixed in August update as part of our long-awaited Tesla Version 9. To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 10, 2018
The Register has contacted Tesla for comment on the forum reports, but has received no response as yet. ®