An assertive driving mode has been added to Tesla’s automatic driver assist technology.
The setting will drive more closely behind other vehicles, change lanes more frequently, avoid leaving the overtaking lane, and conduct rolling stops.
Human driver behavior like this is frequently criticized by safety organizations.
One automotive safety expert, however, believes that it is sometimes safer for an automated system to be more assertive, like a human driver, rather than being unduly cautious.
In Tesla’s October update, the three driving profiles – calm, average, and forceful – were added for the first time. However, due to other concerns, that update was shortly pulled, but the driving profiles feature has now been restored.
The Verge initially reported of a screenshot of the update uploaded on Twitter by David Zipper, a technology writer and visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School.
“Your Model X will have a smaller follow distance, do more frequent speed lane changes, will not exit passing lanes, and may perform rolling stops,” the assertive mode says.
Some social media users have criticized the list of behaviors as being unsafe.
However, Matthew Avery of Thatcham Research in the United Kingdom believes that well-designed autonomous systems are theoretically safer than human drivers since they eliminate human mistakes.
As a result, if a more assertive driving style promotes more drivers to use self-driving systems than a cautious style, it could result in a net increase in safety.
“If we want widespread adoption of automation, drivers are going to expect the vehicle to do and make the decisions that you would do as a human driver, not some very benign and very safe algorithm,” he explained.
Human drivers frequently come to a stalemate, such as when one must pull over in a single-lane country road or at a four-way intersection, and one must make the first move. It’s possible that two exceedingly cautious automated automobiles will both wait for the other to act.
“This is what the manufacturers are trying to learn at the moment,” Mr Avery explained.
“So, a degree of being slightly less cautious, If that means more people use the systems more of the time because they feel that they’re more human-like, that’s a good thing.”
However, he cautioned that it will depend on how “aggressive” the system is, and that it must avoid aggressive driving.
“It’s a fine line between assertive and aggressive, but definitely there are situations when automation going through some very basic rules will eventually sort of stop because it just can’t progress,” he said.
“I don’t think we’re there yet. I don’t think the technology is sophisticated enough.”
Failure to come to a full halt at a stop line is not legal in many jurisdictions, and it can result in a driver’s licence being revoked. Many drivers simply come to a slow crawl – or a rolling halt – as a matter of habit, but this is a dangerous strategy.
Both Tesla’s average and forceful modes appear to contain these. The car’s description that it “would not exit passing lanes” appears to be in violation of some area rules.
Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” function is presently only available as part of a limited test in the United States.
However, in the United States, where people drive on the right, numerous states have made it unlawful to leave the right lane unless overtaking. Similarly, the Highway Code in the United Kingdom states that drivers should always stay in the left lane unless overtaking, and should return to the left lane when it is safe to do so.
It’s unclear whether Tesla’s algorithm would account for national or state-level changes in overtaking lane laws, or what the term “rolling stops” implies with relation to stop signs.
The company’s media relations department has been abolished, and it no longer responds to press inquiries.
Tesla’s so-called complete self-driving technology has drawn a lot of attention, with crashes and events involving the technology receiving a lot of media attention.
Despite its name, it is not considered self-driving technology, but rather a driver aid function akin to other car manufacturers’ lane assist technology. On a five-point scale of automated systems, it is at level two.
Tesla owners must always be in control of their vehicles and alert, ready to take over in an emergency.
(Adapted from BBC.com)