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"Limitations" in 'autopiloting' car's perception of cyclists flagged by researcher

Lee Baker
06 June 2017
The car highlights to people what it can see, in a
The car highlights to people what it can see, in a "A+" feature


A researcher from Stanford University has claimed that a car on the market in the US in 'autopilot' mode has "limitations" in its perception of cyclists and urged drivers need to take advantage of a feature helping them to see what it sees.

Heather Knight, roboticist, said in a blog post that drivers should be aware of the limitations of the TESLA when in autopilot mode, when it "should not be treated as a fully-autonomous vehicle" and to take advantage of its 'situation awareness display,' which provides a mental model of what the car 'sees'. In particular, she recommended "that people NEVER USE TESLA AUTOPILOT AROUND BICYCLISTS," as she gives the car an "A+" for a feature telling the human when to take over.

She wrote admiringly of a number of the car's features, including its automatic lane switching ("love it: intuitive, reliable, super cool!") and stressed that the insights are only her "first impressions of this system". But she found "the autopilot's behaviour around bicyclists to be frightening" and praised the fact that the car helps drivers to understand its shortcomings. "Robots in general would benefit from communicating their limitations to people," she concluded.

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