Here's An Effective Demonstration Of Semi-Autonomous Limitations

Thatcham Research is urging car makers and legislators to provide "greater clarity" about the capabilities of driver assistance systems
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Level 2 driver assistance systems are becoming ever-more impressive. They can take care of the braking and acceleration, navigate bends and even changes lanes all by themselves, to the point that people are placing ever more faith in the technology. But you only have to look at the spate of recent high-profile Tesla Autopilot crashes to know that this can be problematic.

This isn’t lost on Thatcham Research and the ABI (Association of British Insurers) - both firms issued “an urgent call to carmakers and legislators for greater clarity around the capability of vehicles sold with technology that does more and more driving on behalf of motorists.”

The other Matt had a rant a few weeks ago about the use - and indeed misuse - by manufactures of the word ‘autonomous’, and it seems these two organisations also aren’t happy about current driver assistance systems being described thusly. “These are not Autonomous systems. Our concern is that many are still in their infancy and are not as robust or as capable as they are declared to be,” Thatcham’s research boss Matthew Avery said.

To go with the press release, there’s a simple but effective video (above) showing what can go wrong when you put too much trust into a system like Autopilot. In it, we see a Tesla Model S following another vehicle. The car in front changes lanes, revealing a stationary car ahead, which the Tesla isn’t able to avoid.

Here's An Effective Demonstration Of Semi-Autonomous Limitations

Thatcham also has an issue with the branding used for this kind of technology. “Names like Autopilot [Tesla] or ProPilot [Nissan] are deeply unhelpful, as they infer the car can do a lot more than it can,” Avery said.

This summer, Thatcham will be undertaking an extensive consumer test programme to see how the current crop of systems fare. Criteria will including naming, back-up systems, emergency intervention and the kind of notice that’s given if full control needs to be unexpectedly handed back to the driver.

Tesla and Nissan - the two companies whose tech was name-checked by Thatcham - both responded to the report:


“Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents and the issues described by Thatcham won’t be a problem for drivers using Autopilot correctly.”


“ProPilot Assist is a hands-on, eyes-on, driver-assist system that can be used for motorway and dual carriageway driving. This is clearly communicated to customers at all stages of the purchase process. The system requires the driver to be in control at all times, and with their hands on the steering wheel – the system deactivates if this is not the case.”


Valanti Demetriades

I think some of the people behind the wheel are the biggest example of semi autonomous limitations

06/13/2018 - 12:58 |
104 | 0
Rahul 1

It takes anyone less than a second to be sold on an idea of a partially autonomous vehicle and not a fully autonomous one. When the customer gets the car they’ll ignore the partiality of the self driving system and go ahead and envision themselves in the future smh. Like, you can advertise all you want, but people are gonna still misuse that and get their driving privileges taken away from them. Just another simple case of failing to understand the tech…

06/13/2018 - 13:04 |
22 | 0

Damn that Mercedes did it so well

06/13/2018 - 13:43 |
3 | 0

The people who ignore what the car is telling them an hurt or kill someone should be charged.

06/13/2018 - 14:15 |
6 | 0

Limitations = Not Driver Friendly. Thats why i will never own an autonomous car. Scientists say the best computer is the human brain.

06/13/2018 - 14:15 |
18 | 0
redflamexfire(R32 squad)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)


06/13/2018 - 14:49 |
1 | 0
Tomislav Celić

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

To put it in the perpective. As Science studio said, there are 70 billion Neurons in our brain. A high end processor has 7 billion tranzistors. While that sounds like not much less, actually one neuron is more powerfull than 100, if not even 1000 tranzistors. Let that sink in.

06/13/2018 - 16:37 |
9 | 1

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Scientist have also used science to argue racial superiority (eugenics) didn’t make it right… Just because science says something doesn’t make it truth.

06/13/2018 - 18:31 |
4 | 3

Mercedes: Oh ill just switch lanes

06/13/2018 - 15:21 |
52 | 0

Sounds like something one might hear on old RCR

06/15/2018 - 00:31 |
2 | 0

The video I’ve been waiting for!

06/13/2018 - 15:23 |
0 | 0
My Name is Joel

Unfortunately, Tesla and Nissan just can’t fix stupid

06/13/2018 - 16:55 |
3 | 0

They should rename it from “Autopilot” to “semipilot”

06/13/2018 - 17:52 |
7 | 0

Or you know, call it what it is. Tesla driver aid. Nissan driver aid.

06/14/2018 - 09:38 |
1 | 0

We need less blaming automakers and more accountability for ignorant drivers

06/13/2018 - 18:28 |
7 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Both need to happenm really. The names of these driver aids are indeed misleading for regular people. And drivers are indeed mostly ignorant.

06/14/2018 - 09:39 |
3 | 0


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