Consumer Reports drives a Tesla with nobody in the driver's seat

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,177   +132
Staff member
What just happened? Consumer Reports (CR) in the wake of a recent fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S said they have successfully demonstrated the ease in which the vehicle’s Autopilot safeguards can be defeated. It begs the question: are more safeguards needed or should some onus fall on the consumer?

Engineers with the organization tested their 2020 Tesla Model Y on a half-mile closed test track. One engineer sat in the rear, and another in the driver’s seat on top of the buckled seat belt (Autopilot will apparently disengage if the seat belt isn’t buckled while the vehicle is in motion).

The passenger in the front seat engaged Autopilot, then used the speed dial on the steering wheel to set the speed to zero, bringing the vehicle to a stop. Next, the driver placed a small weighted chain on the steering wheel to simulate the weight of a driver’s hand before moving over to the front passenger seat.

Using the speed dial, CR engineers were able get the vehicle to drive up and down their test track, “repeatedly, never noting that no one was in the driver’s seat, never noting that there was no one touching the steering wheel, never noting there was no weight on the seat.”

“It was a bit frightening when we realized how easy it was to defeat the safeguards, which we proved were clearly insufficient,” said Jake Fisher, CR’s senior director of auto testing, who conducted the test.

The fatal crash in question, which local police and federal agencies are still investigating, took place on April 17, 2021, in Spring, Texas, and involved a 2019 Tesla Model S. According to preliminary reports, one person was found in a rear passenger seat and another in the front passenger seat. Police at the time said they didn’t believe anyone was behind the wheel when the crash occurred.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a message on Twitter on April 19 said data logs recovered up to that point show Autopilot was not enabled and the vehicle did not have FSD, or full self-driving, a feature intended for use with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment. The driving aid, Tesla notes on its website, does not make the vehicle autonomous.

Image credit Photosite

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sreams

Posts: 172   +272
Anybody who is willing to very intentionally defeat the safeguards by hanging a weight on the steering wheel, fastening a seatbelt under them, and then climbing into another seat would be equally willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to defeat any additional safeguards Tesla (or anybody else) might implement. CR's conclusion that they have "proven" that Tesla's system of safeguards is inadequate is flatly false. What they have actually proven is that dummies will go to great lengths to be dummies.

EDIT: (Odd that TR censors the word 1d1ot)...
 

kimo1

Posts: 227   +415
But just maybe the Nikola Tesla's name mocker should stop using the word "autopilot" so buyers wouldn't be fooled to risk their lives. Because people get fooled very easily by false advertising. People's TRUST can be exploited too easily nowadays.
 

VitalyT

Posts: 5,568   +5,266
If an explicit disclaimer doesn't discourage a stupid person from playing a jack-a$$ with his life, maybe it is for the better? I only see the world benefiting from reducing the number of idi0ts.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,452   +3,603
Anybody who is willing to very intentionally defeat the safeguards by hanging a weight on the steering wheel, fastening a seatbelt under them, and then climbing into another seat would be equally willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to defeat any additional safeguards Tesla (or anybody else) might implement. CR's conclusion that they have "proven" that Tesla's system of safeguards is inadequate is flatly false. What they have actually proven is that dummies will go to great lengths to be dummies.

EDIT: (Odd that TR censors the word 1d1ot)...
We live in the modern nanny state (nappy state?) where nobody can be held responsible for their actions and everything must be safeguarded against the dumbest of the cattle, irrespective of the difficulty it causes for the masses with more then a teaspoon of brain matter between their ears.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,928   +4,185
Typical BS reply by Musky. He loves to place responsibility for everything he does that is questionable on everyone else. He might just as well say "if you are dumb enough to buy my company's cars, you deserve what you get." This reminds me of Steve Jobs comments about the iPhone antenna fiasco "You're holding it wrong."
 

sreams

Posts: 172   +272
But just maybe the Nikola Tesla's name mocker should stop using the word "autopilot" so buyers wouldn't be fooled to risk their lives. Because people get fooled very easily by false advertising. People's TRUST can be exploited too easily nowadays.

Completely disagree. Anybody who goes to all this trouble to circumvent the safeguards is perfectly aware of what they doing and that it is not intended behavior. They weren't fooled into anything.
 

Ben1978

Posts: 114   +84
But just maybe the Nikola Tesla's name mocker should stop using the word "autopilot" so buyers wouldn't be fooled to risk their lives. Because people get fooled very easily by false advertising. People's TRUST can be exploited too easily nowadays.
Planes have an actual autopilot, but AFAIK pilots don't just leave the cockpit,or even their flight seat, while it's activated.
 

Ben1978

Posts: 114   +84
Typical BS reply by Musky. He loves to place responsibility for everything he does that is questionable on everyone else. He might just as well say "if you are dumb enough to buy my company's cars, you deserve what you get." This reminds me of Steve Jobs comments about the iPhone antenna fiasco "You're holding it wrong."
So what's your point? That he has created a death trap? How about he's created an amazing product that has the functionality to do what people couldn only dream of until recently, and implemented both direct warnings and safeguards to stop people abusing the product and hurting themselves.
 

tygrus

Posts: 22   +8
There are gaps between the dreams & the designs. There are gaps between the designs & the implementations. I think Musk has confused fact from fiction. Current reports don't all agree so we have to wait to see after the full investigations.

The point is: the naming is wrong & more can be done but it adds cost & complexity. How hard it can be made to be defeated. Add sensing body weight on seat, cameras checking person/eyes/pulse, multiple ways to sense surroundings & dangers.

Autopilot currently provides driving aids not full autonomous driving.
 

Underdog

Posts: 194   +111
And all of this complicated and expensive technology just to enable a driver to play a game on his smartphone instead of keeping an eye on the road ahead and taking responsibility.

Stop the world. I wanna get off!
 

Reehahs

Posts: 1,198   +828
Anybody who is willing to very intentionally defeat the safeguards by hanging a weight on the steering wheel, fastening a seatbelt under them, and then climbing into another seat would be equally willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to defeat any additional safeguards Tesla (or anybody else) might implement. CR's conclusion that they have "proven" that Tesla's system of safeguards is inadequate is flatly false. What they have actually proven is that dummies will go to great lengths to be dummies.

EDIT: (Odd that TR censors the word 1d1ot)...

The only way to beat it would be getting the driver Neurolinked to be connected with the car.
 

0dium

Posts: 208   +260
My 1980 Toyota Tercel must have been unsafe too then, because if I put a cinderblock on the gas pedal it also would move forward even with no driver in the seat and no hands on the wheel. I wonder if I can sue for a refund.
Exactly my thoughts. Simple cars can be fooled even easier but this and their research prove nothing. If you are using something in ways it was not intended to be used, you must expect to get harmed.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,928   +4,185
So what's your point? That he has created a death trap? How about he's created an amazing product that has the functionality to do what people couldn only dream of until recently, and implemented both direct warnings and safeguards to stop people abusing the product and hurting themselves.
Get your Musk Kool-aid here! :rolleyes:

Definitely, Musk makes a perfect car, and it comes with a California caution label. 🤣 Musk makes perfect cars that fulfill the sci-fi fantasies of every boy. ;) I wonder, then, why he is having problems elsewhere, too? https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/worl...squiet-mounts-after-owner-protest/ar-BB1fQ1ig https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/23/tes...ounts-on-carmaker-after-customer-protest.html Oh, I know. The entire world has such a low IQ compared to Musk and his real, stable genius. 🤣

Perhaps Musk will do some Tesla skits on Saturday Night Live - now that he is going to get his chance at hamming it up on the show. https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/24/...-saturday-night-live-miley-cyrus-tesla-spacex Watch closely for his latest self-serving statement on crypto. :laughing:

Back on topic - with Mercedes and others now selling EVs that are designed in direct competition for the markets that Tesla serves, I think Tesla/Musk, and his kool-aid clan, are in for a rude awakening.

Apologies!
 
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sreams

Posts: 172   +272
And all of this complicated and expensive technology just to enable a driver to play a game on his smartphone instead of keeping an eye on the road ahead and taking responsibility.

Stop the world. I wanna get off!

The end goal is not to allow a "driver" to play a game on a phone. It's to virtually eliminate all accidents and drive travel costs down for those who can't afford to own a car or pay a driver to get them somewhere.
 

DaveBG

Posts: 558   +247
Typical BS reply by Musky. He loves to place responsibility for everything he does that is questionable on everyone else. He might just as well say "if you are dumb enough to buy my company's cars, you deserve what you get." This reminds me of Steve Jobs comments about the iPhone antenna fiasco "You're holding it wrong."
Dude this is not hard to understand. If you cannot understand what these 2 did in the car and why this happened and why they and only they were responsible you either have eaten too many fake news or the problem is in you... Reading only FUD is bad and you are example of it.
 

yeeeeman

Posts: 398   +350
I think these kind of tests are good BUT they shouldn't be made public, they should have sent this video to Tesla directly, because it is just stupid to show to the people how the system can be hacked and then say...oh, you shouldn't do this.
 
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