Engineering expert reveals Tesla’s Autopilot might not see cyclists as friends

What's worse, it might not see them at all

Tesla changed our perception on how a modern vehicle should be (electric), and how it should drive (by itself). But it isn’t flawless; yet. Heather Knight, a Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute published an essay titled “Tesla Autopilot Review: Bikers Will Die.” 

Readying Ms. Knight’s review, you’ll find that no one died during the driving sessions she enjoyed in the rented Tesla Model S. Knowing how a car’s “brain” works, she found “Autopilot’s agnostic behavior around bicyclists to be frightening.” Thanks to the “situation awareness display” through which one can see what the car “sees,” Ms. Knight observed that the 2016 Model S (“Hardware 1”) “classified ~30% of other cars and 1% of bicyclists.” 

However, despite the possibly worrying lack of visual analysis, the “situation awareness display” was praised by the Computer Science Professor; she mentioned that the A+ grade “is not for the detection system, it’s for exposing the system’s limitations. A feature telling the human to take over is incredibly important.”

There are no known incidents involving Teslas and bicyclists, but on one occasion in Norway in 2016, the Autopilot didn’t “see” a rider, rear-ending the motorcycle he was on.

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