Car Time – May 2022


“Autopilot or Self-Driving” does not mean your vehicle is fully autonomous

    As vehicles become more advanced, new inventions are created to assist drivers as they commute. For example, in the mid to late 2000s, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) was created to assist drivers on freeways. What this system started would later morph into something more complex.
    ACC works by setting your speed, as you normally would on cruise control, as well as setting the distance you want from the car in front of you. The purpose of this system is to maintain a safe distance and speed, dependent on the vehicle in front of you, based on sensors. Not only would the vehicle maintain its speed, it could change it without driver input by applying the brakes and throttling on its own.
    Various additions and revisions have since eventuated to better the ACC system. For example, Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) alerts a driver and independently steers the vehicle to keep it within a lane.
    These systems were both made to assist drivers, meaning as manufactures insist, a driver must still be fully aware with their hands on the steering wheel. ACC is nearly standard on new vehicles these days.
    Tesla’s driver assistance systems teeter on a fine line, marketed in a confusing, and in many cases, dangerous way. Autopilot is geared towards a more advanced ACC – LKAS type of system, while the company’s “Full Self-Driving” system focuses on full autonomy.
    Tesla states Autopilot requires the driver’s attention, while Full Self-Driving does not, even though it is in a beta phase and advertised as an unfinished product.
    There have been many incidents cited where people relied on autopilot to drive without driver input or awareness, unfortunately resulting in vehicle crashes. Third party inventions were even made to trick the autopilot system into thinking a driver had hands on the steering wheel, thus bypassing an alert message.
    The Full Self-Driving system is flawed. Videos online affirm it does not fully work, even breaking the law passing through stop signs, and ultimately forcing a recall.
    Vehicles today are advanced, but they still require a driver’s full attention no matter what. Full autonomy has not been perfected, nor is it actually available to the public in a fully functioning manner.
    Pay attention while driving and stay safe out there.
Xavier Estrada can be reached at

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