Tesla has made a long-standing promise of a "full self-driving" option for his cars from the order page on the company's website.
Elton Musk, Tesla's CEO, said on Twitter that the option will be temporarily "available from the menu", much like Animal Style fries at an In-N-Out burger joint. However, it will quickly leave the secret menu and will not come back until the company is ready to unpack it. The full self-driving option was caused "too much confusion" for customers to justify keeping it in front and in the middle, he said. The company declined to comment.
. Three years ago, Musk claimed that Tesla vehicles would be ready and able to fully drive through 201
These promises have since weakened. Musk recently admitted that needs to upgrade cars already on the road with new hardware – specifically a new AI chip – to give them full self-drive capabilities. (Even then, some in the industry believe that Tesla's cars lack a crucial piece of the autonomous puzzle.) Tesla missed Musk's 2017 estimate for the introduction of Full Self-Driving for at least a year. And now Tesla has tarnished the visibility of "full self-driving" in general, raising questions about the company's approach to one of its biggest goals.
"Tesla had a lot of problems with her autonomous driving style," says Rob Enderle, a technology analyst with the Enderle Group, in an email to The Verge . He points out that Tesla has been using the term "autopilot" for years, even though his cars are currently only able to drive in very specific situations and always with driver control.
Tesla struggles with regulatory pushbacks on this point. In 2016, the German government called on the company not to use the term autopilot because it was a "misleading" consumer. And just this week, the European New Car Assessment Program – a security coalition led by a number of governments and transit agencies across Europe – published a report criticizing Tesla's promotion of autopilot. Tesla, the Euro NCAP writes, has published videos that "irritate consumers about the true capabilities of the autopilot system".
Musk's claim of consumer confusion was confirmed by a new poll released last week. On behalf of Euro-NCAP and Thatcham, a research company set up by the automotive insurance industry, 1567 car owners from China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States were surveyed. It is striking that 71 percent of respondents believed that they can now buy a self-driving car – which is not true. The survey also found that one in ten drivers "would be tempted to take a nap" while using semi-autonomous systems like autopilot. This is dangerous: Tesla requires users to keep their hands on the steering wheel when the car has to leave control to the driver.
The driver assistance system currently exists in a kind of eerie valley. In the right settings, systems like autopilot seem like the car can really drive itself, which in turn can lead to a false sense of safety, or a reduction in the driver's attention. This is not just an opinion poll; Tesla himself has said that a driver who died while using autopilot earlier this year was warned several times to keep his hands off the steering wheel in the pre-impact minutes, a sign that the driver was too dependent on the drivers Capabilities of the car could have been.
Enderle believes Tesla's new, more conservative approach to promoting the full-self-driving option is an attempt to conceal this growing problem. "This should be binary, releasing a system that works or not, not releasing a system that does not work and makes it difficult to order," he says. "That just seems incredibly stupid."
There are other ways to look at the decision. Turning the spotlight on the option "seems to be Tesla's way of telling his stubborn devotees that if we insist on giving us extra money, we'll gladly accept it," says Sam Abuelsamid, senior analyst at Navigant Research.
Tasha Keeney, an analyst at ARK-Invest, says she does not. I believe that abandoning Full Self-Driving as an option means changing Tesla's ultimate goal of enabling his cars to drive themselves. "We've heard from Musk on Twitter that Tesla will follow their plan to trade the Nvidia board in customer cars, which, along with the chip update we've heard in the earnings calls, seems to make them more autonomous on their run Plan, "Keeney writes in an e-mail. "Unless I hear otherwise, I do not think that would change our long-term thesis," she says.
ARK-Invest, one of the most optimistic companies when it comes to the future of Tesla in this area, recently estimated that the carmaker's supposedly imminent network of self-propelled self-propelled cars – the Musk estimates it could be completed by the end of 2019 – could generate $ 200 billion in annual revenue in a world where autonomous cars are the norm.
Before changing the full-self-driving option this week, Tesla has also pushed back the release of another autopilot feature. Autopilot navigation was billed by Tesla as the "most advanced autopilot feature ever", allowing the car to drive from the ramp to the exit, take the right exit, handle intersections and even propose lane changes. It was originally intended to be included in version 9 of Tesla's vehicle software and should be the first in a series of new features integrated into the company's driver assistance system.
But when version 9.0 was released earlier this month, navigation was missing on autopilot. Tesla said it needed a few more weeks of validation, and in the meantime, vehicles with version 9.0 would gather data to make the feature more accurate when it finally gets published.
Another conclusion of the Euro NCAP survey was that much of this confusion could be mitigated if features like autopilot or even Navigate were subjected to stricter standards. According to the survey, 74 percent of people supported standardized naming conventions for adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and other functions that can be combined into systems like autopilot. In addition, 77 percent said they would watch a training video or attend an online class to better understand these features.
"The lack of driver training and standardized controls, symbols and designations for these functions tarnishes consumers even more" Matthew Avery, Thatcham research director, said in a statement.
But broad point remains. Promises like Full Self-Driving can lead to a false sense of security and confusion. And those are the last things you want when people's lives are at stake. "Cars, even those with advanced driver assistance systems, always need an attentive, attentive driver behind the wheel," said Avery.