Tesla Drivers Are Paying Big Bucks to Test Flawed Self-Driving Software (Backchannel)

"Autopilot is the catch-all term for Tesla’s self-driving technologies. Its suite of hardware and software aims to match a car’s speed to traffic conditions, keep a car within or automatically change lanes (called Autosteer), park a car in a nearby spot, or allow it to be summoned from a garage. Elon Musk has said that by the end of this year, an Autopilot-enabled Tesla will drive from Los Angeles to New York without a human needing to touch the wheel at all.
The stakes are high for Tesla as it gambles on this aggressive approach to testing. Owners who want to activate their cars’ Autopilot feature have to pay thousands of dollars extra. If drivers opt not to, the company loses out in its efforts to recoup its costs. But with a growing record of unexpected swerves, fish-tails and other miscalculations, Tesla is risking not only a hit to its largely sterling reputation, but also the lives and safety of some of its biggest fans.
Mobileye, the Israeli company that supplied the original camera and software for Autopilot, cited safety concerns when it pulled out of its partnership with Tesla. The company’s chief technology officer told Reuters that Tesla was “pushing the envelope in terms of safety…[Autopilot] is not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner.” Tesla says the collaboration ended for commercial reasons.”


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