Tesla | Use of autopilot makes drivers more distracted, study points out

AutoPilot, Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system, is involved in a new controversy. According to data presented by the MIT Advanced Vehicle Technology study, and later published in ScienceDirect, the resource increases drivers’ distraction and, consequently, the risk of accidents.

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The study involved recording the behavior of owners of Tesla’s S and X models over a total run of about 800 thousand kilometers. The study’s conclusion, in summary, is this: when AutoPilot is activated, the driver tends to be more distracted. “Visual behavior patterns change before and after the AP (AutoPilot) is turned off. Before the shutdown, drivers seemed less (focused) on the road and concentrated more on areas not related to driving compared to after the transition to manual driving”, says part of the document.

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The finding was possible, according to those responsible for the study, because the test model was developed to replicate the look pattern of drivers. And the numbers presented by the study are certainly cause for concern. According to the data presented, % of the drivers’ gazes off the road, more precisely, down towards the multimedia center, exceeded 2 seconds.

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A 2 second rule

It seems little, but according to the Denatran Defensive Driving Manual, this is the minimum time needed for a driver keep a safe distance from a car in front of you. In other words: looking away from the road for two seconds can be the cause of an accident.

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Still according to the study data, called “A Model for Naturalistic Gaze Behavior Around the Tesla Autopilot Shutdown”, the focus of drivers was once again focused on the road after the AutoPilot was turned off. Those responsible for disclosing the report also reinforced that the data presented are worrying, as drivers, regardless of the use of Tesla’s resource, “are still responsible for the vehicle while the autopilot is active”.

For those who are not aware, it is worth remembering that Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system has been subject to numerous questions from the market and authorities. Recently, some cars with the functionality have been involved in accidents and collisions due to a problem in reading the roads and vehicles ahead and parked on the side of the road — a situation where the 2 second rule enters. Tesla, so far, has not taken a stand on the published study.

Source: Electrek, ScienceDirect

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