I just read this news: https://tech.slashdot.org/story/20/04/26/0346208/tesla-newest-autopilot-navigation-now-handles-traffic-lights-and-stop-signs

It says that, only now, well into the year 2020, do their "self-driving" cars even recognize traffic lights and stop signs. That means that they didn't before, yet were sold to and used by the general public. The same general public which watches dumb TV shows and videos all day and have no grasp whatsoever of the current state of machine "thinking".

It's frankly unfathomable to me. I almost still can't believe that they actually sell these supposedly "automatic driving" cars which are so incredibly crude and basic as to not even deserve a "slightly enhanced cruise control" label.

To me, it seems as if this couldn't possibly be "gradually rolled out" with new "features" like this being added over years and years. It's either "all or nothing". You don't put a newborn baby in the driver's seat and let it out on the road, hoping that it will gradually learn about traffic lights and stop signs, that one is to avoid those other large moving objects, stop for the smaller moving objects of flesh, etc. That would be insanity. Yet it seems to be what they have done with these "self-driving" cars.

Even besides all of this, I must say that I assumed from day one, when I first heard of these cars a number of years ago now, that they obviously had such a basic thing taken care of as to be able to interpret all standard signs and traffic lights. That seems like such a fundamental "checkbox" to tick off to even dream of considering to put this into any kind of public (or even serious testing) use... yet this is now rolled out, after people have been sitting around in these death traps waiting to happen for ages already?

Please, somebody explain this to me. I genuinely don't get it.

  • 3
    I’m voting to close this question because questions about why a law is enacted or not belong to Politics; Law is about which laws are in place and how those are applied. And even at Politics questions are expected to be objective, and not just rants explaining the author's opinions.
    – SJuan76
    Apr 26, 2020 at 8:22

2 Answers 2


“You don't put a newborn baby in the driver's seat and let it out on the road, hoping that it will gradually learn ...“

No, but you do put a 15, 16 or 17 year old (depending on jurisdiction) in the driver’s seat under the supervision and direction of a qualified driver.

The cars are not “self-driving”, nor are they marketed as such. The driver is still in complete control and they provide enhanced assistance.


Self driving cars are not a substitute for a driver being at the wheel

As of right now, self driving functions are supposed to be like autopilot functions of a plane: they'll keep the vehicle going but you still need a person at the wheel making the ultimate decision.

The self driving functionality always defers to the person in the drivers seat if the actions of the driver contradict the 'autopilot' in the car.

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