A new study suggests Tesla drivers tend to be more distracted when autopilot is enabled

jsilva

Posts: 202   +1
Staff
In brief: Tesla's autopilot system is considered to be a key selling point for the company, but its safety has been questioned by many, including federal authorities. According to a recent MIT study that gathered glance data about drivers, their concerns are perfectly reasonable, as it concludes people look less to forward areas of the vehicle/road.

There have been reports of multiple crashes involving Tesla's autopilot (AP) system, at least enough to raise concerns about their safety. US safety agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) are already investigating the cause behind these accidents, but conclusions have not yet been published.

Studying the glance pattern of Tesla drivers with AP enabled or disabled in highway driving, a team of MIT researchers found drivers look more to off-road areas and less to the road in front of them. This conclusion alone could justify many of the reported accidents.

"Visual behavior patterns change before and after AP disengagement," as per the study. "Before disengagement, drivers looked less on the road and focused more on non-driving related areas compared to after the transition to manual driving. The higher proportion of off-road glances before disengagement to manual driving were not compensated by longer glances ahead."

The study results aren't all that surprising but do provide insights into where drivers look when AP is enabled or disabled. When AP is turned on, drivers glanced more to down/center-stack areas of the car (phone, multimedia screen), which researchers presumed to be "non-driving related."

Such conclusions also suggest that Tesla car owners that bought the FSD (Full Self Driving) system, which was recently updated to version 10, are not following the recommendations on how to use it. Although the car can drive itself, the EV manufacturer still recommends users remain vigilant when the system is turned on.

If you own a vehicle with FSD, whether you have it on or not, pay attention to the road in front of you at all times.

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Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 547   +832
I wonder if Tesla drivers are less distracted than other drivers when autopilot is off. I'm pretty sure that's how I drive at least. I pay attention when Autopilot is on of course, but if I am going to be distracted for a short time I'll choose to do it when once the risk of doing so is lowest--ie. on a stretch of road that I'm confident that Autopilot is going to work flawlessly. I'm not defending it or claiming that it is safe to do so, but at the same time the more distracting activities I'll just pull over to do. Things like changing music to play I'll reserve for when Autopilot is activated.
 

zulu53

Posts: 65   +21
And to think people got paid real money to produce this study (and so are able to afford the latest smartphone). Next from MIT; a study to show that sun ALWAYS rises in the EAST (according to the compass on their new smartphone).
 

zulu53

Posts: 65   +21
I wonder if Tesla drivers are less distracted than other drivers when autopilot is off. I'm pretty sure that's how I drive at least. I pay attention when Autopilot is on of course, but if I am going to be distracted for a short time I'll choose to do it when once the risk of doing so is lowest--ie. on a stretch of road that I'm confident that Autopilot is going to work flawlessly. I'm not defending it or claiming that it is safe to do so, but at the same time the more distracting activities I'll just pull over to do. Things like changing music to play I'll reserve for when Autopilot is activated.
Depends of course in how you define "distraction". The people doing this study clearly believe that "doing productive work", as defined outside academia, is a "distraction".
 

zulu53

Posts: 65   +21
Come on Joao. The complete and only point of "autopilot" for motor vehicles is to allow the human to do other things, presumably more productive, with their time. Calling these other things "distractions" if a falsehood. This MIT study in no way, shape, or form makes the human safety concerns "perfectly reasonable". The study is completely meaningless ("the sky is blue") and so has no impact at all on the "reasonableness" concerns by the "authorities" or anyone else.
 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 6,552   +4,950
I am surprised the study did not conclude that the drivers were distracted by the fart sounds when the turn signals are turned on. šŸ¤£

I guess this study just goes to show how gullible Tesla owners are towards Musky and Telsa's marketing. :rolleyes:
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,724   +4,260
No sh1t shinola. Have decades of school taught us nothing? You take a human bneing, put them in a chair, and ask them to do almost nothing for long periods of time and they will look for stimulation. The whole point of a self driving car is the self part. If I have to keep myself vigilant at all times then what the heck is the point?
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 570   +434
Yes the sky can be blue and water can be wet . However sometimes these studies are needed

1) to get more nuance
2) to improve the system at hand
3) for legal or regulatory actions. - lawyers , lobbyist etc will say - that is just pure speculation and has no basis in reality - the problem is now for these companies their internal records will show this .It's like do I get a dashcam if I will incriminate myself .
I sure Tesla does testing itself - does it use this info to mainly alert driver/improve system or mainly to develop a plausible deniability strategy - hopefully more from the first - they all do the second .
( oh we send our employees to the Govt approved/required safety courses - we know its a fairly useless course for our setup - but we did it )
 

Watzupken

Posts: 340   +320
This study result is moot. Why enable auto pilot if you are paying attention on the road? Chances is that they are using their cell phone instead of concentrating on the road. They should ask pilots if they are 100% focus on flying the plane when its on auto pilot mode. They are probably relaxing and drinking coffee.
 

3volv3d

Posts: 409   +209
This study result is moot. Why enable auto pilot if you are paying attention on the road? Chances is that they are using their cell phone instead of concentrating on the road. They should ask pilots if they are 100% focus on flying the plane when its on auto pilot mode. They are probably relaxing and drinking coffee.

While a pilot would not be 100% focused there's 3 of them, and the auto pilot is there for accuracy of angles and trajectory, fuel saving I'm sure. I would do a few circles in a plane and then set off in totally the wrong direction unless I had Google maps up.

Driving a Tesla on a road with an autopilot that isn't as good I wouldn't have thought, as it has the luxury of road and guidelines to follow, means the person now passenger mode is not as safe, 1000 times more bored, its like watching paint dry, sleepy, less vigil.
And the rule of the road is, its everyone else out there you have to worry about what they are doing.
If you're on your phone and not contributing to your safety, well, get what comes don't you.
Nudge that wheel and auto pilot is off and you are crashing into traffic or fields n trees, houses.
 

Nobina

Posts: 3,349   +3,440
Whoever would put their life in the hands of this "autopilot" deserves whatever is coming to them.