Since its launch, Tesla’s Autopilot system, which is nothing more than a semi-autonomous driving assistance system, has been the subject of debate. If on paper, this device allows the car to move without any intervention from the driver, it must however always be used under the supervision of the person behind the wheel, who must always be able to take control in the event of a crash. ’emergency. However, numerous news items have proved that not all motorists have yet fully understood this idea, with accidents involving drivers having been killed while sleeping or watching a movie on the highway having multiplied these last years. A few days ago, the brand of Elon Musk was just making the headlines again, when two Texans lost their lives aboard a Tesla Model S. An almost trivial accident, with one detail: nobody was installed in the driver’s seat.
How is it possible ? If the boss of the manufacturer had defended himself by arguing that the incriminated car did not have theAutopilot, this accident reminds us that whatever the case, the fully autonomous car is not yet for tomorrow. And if the two motorists remain clearly at fault, by their unconsciousness, a question arises: can we really circulate a Tesla alone, without a driver? This is what Consumer Reports magazine wanted to have, the American equivalent of our UFC-What to choose. If this is apparently totally impossible, while the vehicle regularly asks the person behind the wheel to get their hands on it, our colleagues have however succeeded in proving the opposite. To do this, they went on a private and secure circuit, in order to carry out this experience which is somewhat cold in the back. As one of the testers also points out “ anyone who uses this technique on the road puts themselves and others in serious danger. ».
How it works ?
Contrary to what one might think, operating the Autopilot without a driver is actually very easy. It suffices for a person to activate this device while sitting on the seat, with his hands on the steering wheel and traveling on a road allowing the latter to be used. Then, the driver passes the control gear in charge of the speed of the regulator to zero, in order to stop the car without deactivating semi-autonomous driving. A weight is then attached to the left of the steering wheel, in order to simulate the presence of a hand, before the driver passes on the passenger seat, taking care not to unfasten his seat belt. Finally, all you have to do is increase the speed via the control unit for the car to restart. Far from encouraging reckless automobiles to test this method, Consumer Reports wants above all to challenge the brand. The magazine deplores indeed that this “ seems to mistake her clients for engineers as she works to develop autonomous driving technologies. She should pay more attention to their safety ”.
For the American publication, it would suffice simply that the weight sensor of the seat is able to detect the presence or absence of the driver when the vehicle is in motion, even if the seat belt is still fastened. A camera could also check for the presence of a person behind the wheel, greatly reducing the risk of unconscious behavior, which could then cause serious accidents.
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