Safety Technology

Tesla Employees: Sorry About Autopilot Because It Isn't Finished Yet

Is Tesla justified in continuing using the technology?

There is a fine line between a spark of genius and the motivation of determined madness, and it remains unclear which side of that line Tesla lies on. Some may think Elon Musk is a virtuoso, but to others, he is just a madman attempting to impose his dream of the ideal world on people in an unsafe manner. It’s not only certain members of the press that believes he may be overstepping lines with his enthusiasm, five former Tesla employees who were interviewed by CNN Money think so too.

It seems as if the employees, some of whom worked inside the Autopilot division, repeatedly raised concerns about the safety of the system that were ignored or hushed by higher ups in attempts to release the half-baked technology sooner. One engineer even claimed that he was pulled over by police who thought he was driving drunk while he was testing Autopilot two months prior to its release. Understandably, this made him seriously worried about what would happen to the tech when it had the lives of passengers and other cars on the road at stake. Apparently the Autopilot team motto is to "not to let the perfect be the enemy of the better," or for Musk, "don't let concerns slow progress."

For Musk, making sure Autopilot is out and working well enough is a win, he doesn’t need the system to be bulletproof. To him, the system already has a lower rate of failure than most human drivers, and that’s enough to justify the continuation of the program and its release. Some of the gaps left in the system are seemingly small, like the fact that the Self Park feature has a hard time seeing objects that are the size of a cat. Given that the chance of causing much damage at low speed park maneuvers is low, Tesla chooses to deal with these issues later in order to roll out the software sooner. Justified or not, we know that it was only a matter of time until the question of ethics came about in the field of autonomous cars.

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