Musk Previews Mad Max Mode for Autopilot Blind Spot Threshold

Elon Musk shows Autopilot Mad Max setting 1 photo
Photo: Elon Musk via Twitter
Working on the assumption that when they encounter aggressive drivers autonomous cars “will always yield,Tesla’s Autopilot mode might get an exciting upgrade.
Through his preferred communications channel, Twitter, Elon Musk revealed over the weekend that at least the development build of the Autopilot uses a Mad Max setting for its blind spot threshold.

In the photo tweeted by Musk, there are three options available, standard, aggressive and Mad Max, meaning the last one is the most mean of the bunch. Musk said in a subsequent tweet that Tesla considered going for an L.A. Freeway level, “but that’s too loco.”

The Autopilot uses its blind spot sensors to determine whether it is safe to change lanes. Depending on the driving style of the owner, the system can be set to react more or less aggressively when doing that.

The feature is not currently commercially available, but it might. Entrusting an autonomous system with aggressive lane changing might not be a very good idea in the long run, so additional safety systems, like a manual override, might be needed.

“Reality is that it will be pretty easy to bully a self-driving car, as it will always yield. Will prob have a manual override that requires continuous press for hardcore lane changes,” said Musk in response to a comment on his original tweet.

The current method to change lane in a Tesla with Autopilot is to engage the blinker, and the system can then take over.

It’s not yet clear how much different the next version of the Autopilot would be. Musk said a while back that this August all Tesla’s would get an update that would include fully-autonomous features for the Autopilot.

Despite being seen as an autonomous system, and at times indirectly described by Musk and his company as such, Autopilot is not autonomous. Tesla customers seem not to have understood that hence the big number of Autopilot-related crashes in recent months.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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