Thursday, March 4, 2021

Tesla, the Sinatra of car companies

"Frank Sinatra saved my life once. He said, "Okay, boys. That's enough." - Shecky Greene

I feel a little bad picking on the the company this way, but fellow blogger know when you really like a title you almost have to run the post. The joke was based on a real incident. The bruises were still visible the night he first used the line.  

At the risk of putting too fine a point on the analogy, if you get someone into a life-threatening situation, you don't get credit for getting them out of it.

Jason Torchinsky writing for Jalopnik

So, the situation is that the Tesla’s owner was driving along the I-5 North in Los Angeles, with Autopilot engaged, when a truck changed lanes in front of the Tesla, to which the Tesla reacted by maintaining its speed and crossing over the unbroken white line that marks where the highway divides between the I-5 North and the 101 North, putting the car onto the 101 North instead of its intended path.

The Tesla owner refers to the truck as “changing lanes last minute” and that the actions of the car “saved my life” and that Autopilot is “life saving tech.”

My problem here is that any human driver would have seen that the truck had its turn indicator on, and was making a pretty normal lane change. You can see the turn indicator blinking from the very start of the dashcam clip; the truck was clearly intending to change lanes, and I don’t see how you’d call it “last minute” unless you just started paying attention as it began actually changing lanes.

We’ve all been in this exact same situation, and we’ve all done the same thing: let off the gas a bit to slow down slightly, and let the truck change lanes in front of us. It’s trivial, really. For most drivers, you can’t even remember how many times you’ve done this.

You just slow down a bit. Not a brake stomp, just a slight slowing to let the truck in. No biggie.

Stubbornly maintaining the same speed and ignoring the truck that is clearly signaling a lane change until it actually begins to move into the lane, as Autopilot did, is just bad driving; plus, Autopilot put the car onto the wrong freeway for the driver’s destination, which she did note she corrected in another tweet:

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