The Tesla Semi is a battery electric Class 8 semi-truck built by Tesla. Unlike Tesla’s electric cars the Semi does not support an upgrade to Enhanced Autopilot. Enhanced autopilot adds semi-autonomous navigation on limited access roadways, self-parking, and the ability to summon the car from a garage or parking spot. Based on what has happened with their cars, this is a good thing. The Semi does have all the hardware necessary to support enhanced autopilot.
Tesla, the electronic car manufacturer, is the world’s most valuable automotive company. It is led by Elon Musk, the richest man in the world. He has long envisioned cars that are fully self-driving and has been pushing the envelope on this technology.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statement says that, “in certain circumstances when Autosteer is engaged, the prominence and scope of the feature’s controls may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse of the … advanced driver-assistance feature.”
The recall is aimed at fixing the system that is supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when they use Autopilot. Tesla’s auto-driving feature doesn’t just take over and let the person in the driver’s seat read a book or take a nap. The driver must be prepared to intervene if an issue arises that the feature can’t handle.
Some people rely too heavily on the feature, and accidents occur. The Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation over a year ago after more than a dozen crashes happened while Tesla’s Autopilot software was engaged. The NHTSA reviewed 956 crashes for which Autopilot was alleged to have been in use. The agency then focused on 322 Autopilot-related accidents that included frontal collisions and collisions from potential unintended disengagement of the system.
Truck drivers work long hours. They are allowed to drive for 11 hours consecutively before taking a break. And it does not matter what time of day they are driving; truck drivers can legally drive all night if they so desire. Truck drivers are also usually paid by the total miles driven. In short, truck drivers’ incentives are such that they might be particularly likely to take a cat nap while autonomous driving takes over.
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