Not because it had a “mind of its own,” but because drivers misused it. According some believable tall tales, people turned on cruise control* and then crawled into the back seat to get things, or take naps, confident in the “Auto-Pilot.” Yes, that’s what cruise was called in its infancy.
So some skittishness around Tesla’s Autopilot, justified or not, is to be expected. We’ve been here before. Every incremental step in automotive autonomy will agitate the debate about whether we can trust our fellow drivers, and the technology itself.
There is no ideal time to introduce Autopilot. October 2015 is as good, or bad, as any. Waiting until it’s perfect is not an option. It will become perfect, or near perfect, only with real-world use.
Let’s just hope we don’t see an Autopilot disaster on YouTube. The Internet can now turn one misfortune into an interminable horror movie. Remember the Toyota acceleration farce of 2009 to 2011? It began with audio of a 911 call broadcast on the ‘net, and then on ABC News with Brian Ross, and then in plaintiff lawyers’ wet dreams for several years. Imagine if there were a dashcam video? We’d STILL be talking about those possessed Toyotas.
TeslaMondo has already predicted autonomous cars will at the very least invite hanky-panky. Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, you know. While some fear Tesla and Mobileye will have blood on their hands due to an Autopilot accident, TeslaMondo thinks it will be some other bodily fluid.
*History of cruise control.