Tesla Autopilot Abusers need to be held accountable for their actions. For years, Tesla engineers have worked long and hard to improve Autopilot and Full Self-Driving. Hundreds of thousands of hours of work have been put into these driving assistance programs, whether it would be through software, coding, and programming or through other mediums. However, years of hard work, diligence, and improvement can be wiped away from the public’s perception in a minute with one foolish, irresponsible, and selfish act that can be derived from an owner’s need to show off their car’s semi-autonomous functionalities to others.
The most recent example of this is with Param Sharma, a self-proclaimed “rich as f***” social media influencer who has spent the last few days sparring with Tesla enthusiasts through his selfish and undeniably dangerous act of jumping in the backseat while his car is operating on Autopilot. Sharma has been seen on numerous occasions sitting in the backseat of his car while the vehicle drives itself. It is almost a sure thing that Sharma is using several cheat devices in his Tesla to bypass typical barriers the company has installed to ensure drivers are paying attention. These include a steering wheel sensor, seat sensors, and seatbelt sensors, all of which must be controlled or connected by the driver at the time of Autopilot’s use. We have seen several companies and some owners use DIY hack devices to bypass these safety thresholds. These are hazardous acts for several reasons, the most important being the lack of appreciation for other human lives.
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While Tesla fans and enthusiasts are undoubtedly confident in the abilities of Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, they will also admit that the use of these suites needs to be used responsibly and as the company describes. Tesla has never indicated that its vehicles can drive themselves, which can be characterized as “Level 5 Autonomy.” The company also indicates that drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times. There are several safety features that Tesla has installed to ensure that these are recognized by the car’s operator. If these safety precautions are not followed, the driver runs the risk of being put in “Autopilot Jail,” where they will not have the feature available to them for the remainder of their drive.
As previously mentioned, there are cheat devices for all of these safety features, however. This is where Tesla cannot necessarily control what goes on, and law enforcement, in my opinion, is more responsible than the company actually is. It is law enforcement’s job to stop this from happening if an officer sees it occurring. Nobody should be able to climb into the backseat of their vehicle while it is driving. A least not until many years of testing are completed, and many miles of fully autonomous functionalities are proven to be accurate and robust enough to handle real-world traffic.
The reason Tesla should step in, in my opinion, and create a list of repeat offenders who have proven themselves to be irresponsible and not trustworthy enough for Autopilot and FSD, is because if an accident happens while these influencers or everyday drivers are taking advantage of Autopilot’s capabilities, Tesla, along with every other company working to develop Level 5 Autonomous vehicles, takes a huge step backward. Not only will Tesla feel the most criticism from the media, but it will be poured on as the company is taking no real steps to prevent it from happening. Unbelievably, we in the Tesla community know what the vehicles can and what safety precautions have been installed to prevent these incidents from happening. However, mainstream media outlets do not have an explicit and in-depth understanding of Tesla’s capabilities. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that they have no intentions of improving their comprehension of what Tesla does daily.
While talking to someone about this subject on Thursday, they highlighted that this isn’t Tesla’s concern. And while I believe that it really isn’t, I don’t think that’s an acceptable answer to solve all of the abuses going on with the cars. Tesla should take matters into its own hands, and I believe it should because it has done it before. Elon Musk and Tesla decided to expand the FSD Beta testing pool recently, but the company also revoked access to some people who have decided that they would not use the functionality properly. Why is this any different in the case of AP/FSD? Just because someone pays for something doesn’t mean the company cannot revoke access to it. If you pay for access to play video games online and hack or use abusive language, there are major consequences. Your console can get banned, and you would be required to buy a completely new unit if you ever wished to play online video games again.
While unfortunate, Tesla will have to make a stand against those who abuse Autopilot, in my opinion. There needs to be heavier consequences by the company simply because an accident caused by abuse or misuse of the functionalities could set the company back several years and put their work to solve Level 5 Autonomy in a vacuum. There is entirely too much at stake here to even begin to let people off the hook. I believe that Tesla’s actions should follow law enforcement action. When police officers find someone violating the proper use of the system, the normal reckless driving charges should be held up, and there should be increasingly worse consequences for every subsequent offense. Perhaps after the third offense, Tesla could be contacted and could have AP/FSD taken off of the car. There could be a probationary period or a zero-tolerance policy; it would all be up to the company.
I believe that this needs to be taken so seriously, and there need to be consequences because of the blatant disregard for other people and their work. The irresponsible use of AP/FSD by childish drivers means that Tesla’s hard work is being jeopardized by horrible behavior. While many people don’t enjoy driving, it still requires responsibility, and everyone on the road is entrusting you to drive responsibly. It could cost your life or, even worse, someone else’s.