“Some people look at it and say, ‘Hey this crazy dad, what’s he doing? Kapani told CNN Business. “Well, I do a lot of stuff like this, but I’m going to make sure my kid doesn’t get hit.”
But it’s yet another example of the unintended consequence of deploying an unfinished, disruptive technology in the wild — and shows how far some Tesla believers are willing to go to protect it and the company. Many appeared to be following their own experiments after a government agency took the extraordinary step of warning people not to use children to test the car’s technology.
“Consumers should never attempt to create their own test scenarios or test the performance of vehicle technology to real people, and especially to children,” NHTSA said in a statement on Wednesday. The agency called the approach “highly dangerous.”
Earlier this month, California resident Tad Park noticed that another Tesla enthusiast wanted to test out “full self-driving” with a child, and volunteered his two children. Park told CNN Business that it was “a little difficult” for his wife to agree. When he promised to drive the vehicle, she agreed.
“I’m never one to push boundaries because my kids are more valuable to me than anything,” Park said. “I’m not going to risk their lives in any way.”
His Tesla slowed down as the “box boy” approached. Then he accelerated again and collided with his cardboard effigy. Cadamuro speculates that this may be because the cameras cannot see the small boxes once in front of the bumper, and therefore forget they were there.
Cadamuro said that his video started out as entertainment. But he wanted people to see that “full self-driving” isn’t right.
“I think a lot of people have two extreme views of a ‘full self-driving’ beta,” Cadamuro said. “People like Dan think it’s the worst thing in the world. I know some dudes who think it’s perfect.”
Cadamuro said he also conducted other tests in which his Tesla, traveling at high speed, was effectively moving around a “box boy”.
According to Carnegie Mellon University professor Rajkumar Rajkumar, who researches autonomous vehicles, quickly and accurately detecting small objects such as small children will generally be more difficult for computer vision systems to perceive than larger objects and adults. , such as what Tesla vehicles rely on.
The more pixels an object takes up in a camera image, the more information the system has to detect features and identify the object. The system will also be affected by the data on which it is trained, such as how many images of young children it is exposed to.
“Computer vision with machine learning is not 100% foolproof,” Rajkumar said. “Like a diagnosis of a disease, there are always false positives and negatives.”
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment and does not generally engage with professional news media.
“Wild West Chaos Rules”
Some Tesla supporters criticized O’Dowd’s use of cones as lane markings in his original test, which may have limited the sedan’s ability to drive around a mannequin. Others claimed that O’Dowd’s test driver forced Tesla to hit the mannequin by pushing the accelerator, which was not visible in the video released by O’Dowd. Some Tesla enthusiasts also pointed to blurry messages on the Tesla vehicle’s screen as a sign that O’Dowd’s test driver was pushing the accelerator to rigged the test.
O’Dowd told CNN Business that blurry messages mention supercharging being unavailable and uneven tire wear. CNN Business could not independently verify what the message said because O’Dowd provided no crisp video of what happened in the car during the tests.
O’Dowd is the founder of the Dawn Project, an effort to make computers safe for humanity. He was unsuccessful as a candidate for the US Senate this year, particularly in a campaign centered on his criticism of “absolute self-driving”.
NHTSA is currently investigating Tesla’s driver-assistance technology for further changes.
“The software that controls the lives of billions of people in self-driving cars has to be the best software ever written,” O’Dowd said. “We’re using absolute, Wild West anarchy rules and we’ve got something that’s pretty terrifying.”