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Tesla’s self-driving technology — is it safe?

What is self-driving technology, and is it safe?

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A row of Teslas sit parked outside a Tesla dealership in Provo on July 12, 2022.

A row of Teslas sit parked outside a Tesla dealership in Provo on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Self-driving technology is a term that describes a wide range of technologies that allow cars to drive themselves. This technology has been around for many years, but it has only recently become more widespread. There are many different types of self-driving technology, but they all share the same goal: to allow cars to drive themselves without human input.

There are both pros and cons to Tesla’s self-driving technology. On the one hand, this technology could improve the quality of life by making it easier to get around and even safer in some instances. On the other hand, there are concerns about its safety and security. There is also worry that this technology could lead to job losses in the automotive industry. Despite these concerns, self-driving technology is rapidly becoming more popular and is likely here to stay.

How Tesla’s self-driving technology works

Tesla’s self-driving technology is based on a number of different technologies, including traffic-aware cruise control, autosteer and automatic parking. These technologies work together to allow cars to drive themselves without human input.

  • Traffic-aware cruise control: The traffic-aware cruise control feature monitors traffic flow and adjusts the car’s speed to keep it in line with the other vehicles on the road.
  • Autosteer: The autosteer feature uses sensors to keep the car in line with the markings on the road, allowing it to stay in the lane even when no one else is driving.
  • Automatic parking: The automatic parking feature can automatically park the car in a parking spot without help from the driver.

Pros of Tesla’s self-driving technology

Safer roads

Self-driving technology can make it safer and easier to get around. Supporters of this technology have said that self-driving vehicles could possibly “revolutionize transportation and save millions of lives if crashes become rarer.” This is because Tesla’s self-driving cars can navigate traffic more efficiently than humans. They can also react more quickly to changes in traffic conditions.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Many vehicles on the road today have driver assistance technologies, which help to save lives and prevent injuries on our nation’s roads.”

Shorter commutes (traffic efficiency)

Because self-driving cars can react more quickly to changes in traffic conditions, auto-driving cars can help reduce traffic congestion and make commutes shorter and less stressful.

The NHTSA has stated that “Americans spent an estimated 6.9 billion hours in traffic delays in 2014, cutting into time at work or with family, increasing fuel costs and vehicle emissions. Automated driving systems have the potential to improve efficiency and convenience.”

Environmentally friendly

Self-driving cars can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save on energy costs. Self-driving technology can help promote environmental sustainability because autonomous cars use less energy than human-driven cars. They are also able to optimize their routes to reduce fuel consumption.

“Vehicle electrification opens up possibilities to improve efficiency with less personal driving, resulting in further reductions of air pollutants from the transport sector,” stated the NHTSA in its release about the safety of automated vehicles.

Access to jobs

Self-driving technology can provide access to jobs for people who might not otherwise have it. This is because self-driving cars can perform many tasks that are currently done by human workers, such as driving and delivering packages. As a result, self-driving cars could create new jobs in the automotive industry and elsewhere.

Cons of Tesla’s self-driving technology

Fully autonomous cars aren’t full self-driving

There are concerns that Tesla’s full self-driving technology, which is still in development, could cause huge problems and dangers on the road. This is because full self-driving cars require human input to monitor the technology and ensure it works properly. If this monitoring is not done correctly, there could be severe consequences.

Security issues

Because automated cars will need to be connected to a network to communicate, this leaves room for possible security issues caused by hacking into self-driving vehicles. Hackers could take control of a self-driving car and use it to cause harm. This is a serious concern that needs to be addressed before self-driving vehicles become more widespread.

According to the Cyber Security & Infrastructure Security Agency, “As connected devices, AV technology may also introduce new security risks and increase threats to sensitive information and public safety. Effectively managing risk in this evolving hybrid-threat environment requires close and consistent collaboration between cybersecurity and physical security professionals.”

Job losses

One of the potential downsides of self-driving technology is that it could lead to job loss. People who drive trucks and cars for a living would need to find another career if their jobs are taken by self-automated vehicles.

The initial cost of a self-automated car

Another downside to self-driving technology is the initial cost of a self-automated vehicle. New self-driving cars are currently very expensive, and it would take a long time for the technology to become affordable for most people.

Machine error

Although machines are generally more accurate than humans, they are not perfect. There is always the risk of accidents caused by machine error. This is a risk that needs to be considered when implementing self-driving technology.

According to some studies, including a 2020 study by AAA, automated vehicles may be prone to machine error too frequently to be put onto the roads at this stage of development. 

This is a risk that needs to be considered when implementing self-driving technology.

Final thoughts on Tesla’s self-driving technology

Self-driving technology is a growing industry with many potential benefits. However, some risks need to be considered before implementing this technology. Tesla’s self-driving technology has pros and cons that should be considered before deciding whether or not to use it.