Tesla may disable autopilot for drivers who don't follow the rules

If Autopilot turns itself off because a driver has ignored warning cues, he or she may not be able to turn it on again until the car is stopped and put in park.

Michael Probst/AP/File
a Tesla Model S is on display on the first press day of the Frankfurt Auto Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany. Tesla Motors is working on modifications to its Autopilot system.

Some people can't resist putting themselves in danger. Those folks have given us some amazing things, like bungee-jumping and scuba diving. On the other hand, they're also responsible for Russian roulette and planking.  

When Tesla rolled out its semi-self-driving Autopilot software last fall, we saw owners on both ends of the spectrum. Some used the technology responsibly; others, not so much. Now comes word that the automaker may be cracking down on the latter group's use of Autopilot by temporarily disabling the feature.

Autopilot angst

The past couple of months haven't been kind to Autopilot. The software has been linked to a death in Florida and several accidents around the globe--including one in China, where it appears that Tesla sales personnel and the company's Chinese-language website had been describing Autopilot as fully autonomous.

The headlines have gotten so heated that CEO Elon Musk was invited to testify before a U.S. Senate committee. He also felt compelled to devote a sizable chunk of his otherwise forward-facing "Master Plan Part Deux" to defending the still-in-beta technology.

Throughout, Musk and others have done everything they could to clarify that Tesla Autopilot is not a self-driving system and that even when it's engaged, owners are instructed to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

Autopilot contains a safety mechanism to ensure motorists do just that. If drivers fail to maintain contact with the steering wheel, Autopilot uses visible and audible warnings to get their attention. If they don't respond, Autopilot begins slowing the vehicle and dialing down the volume on the car's stereo.


But those sorts of warnings aren't enough for some people. And so, the upcoming v8.0 update of Autopilot may prevent drivers who ignore the software's warnings from re-engaging it--at least temporarily.

If Autopilot turns itself off because a driver has ignored warning cues, she may not be able to turn it on again until the car is stopped and put in park. In such cases, the vehicle's adaptive cruise control (which Tesla calls traffic-aware cruise control) will remain functional, but the self-steering feature won't.

There's no word yet on when Autopilot 8.0 will begin rolling out to Tesla owners, but it's rumored to be undergoing final tests now. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Tesla may disable autopilot for drivers who don't follow the rules
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today