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Does Tesla Motors (TSLA) Autopilot Make Sex While Driving Too Easy?

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Autopilot

Tesla Motors Inc Autopilot feature allows drivers to take their feet off the accelerator and brake and their hands off the steering wheel. However, the feature is not fully-autonomous and requires constant human supervision. However, a quick search on Youtube for “Tesla Autopilot” will return an interesting menu of videos showing drivers performing daily tasks – brushing teeth, reading the newspaper – all while behind the wheel of a self-driving Tesla.

One now famous video has the driver climbing into the back seat of the car leaving the driving 100% to Autopilot. In a culture where people are willing to push boundaries for a thrill, even at great risk, this next question won’t surprise anyone. Here it is… Is it OK to engage in sex behind the wheel of a self-driving Tesla? One expert is making his opinion known about this.

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Autopilot
Source: Tesla Motors Inc

The danger of having sex in a self-driving car

Self-driving cars will offer an endless list of benefits to drivers (if you can call them that) such as sleeping, working, watching TV and more while driving. However, there is another tempting use for the technology – having sex behind the wheel, as per a Canadian expert, Barrie Kirk. The expert believes this will be a major temptation and distraction for drivers and passengers while driving in semi-autonomous and fully autonomous cars, says a report from TorontoSun.

Speaking to the Toronto Sun, Barrie Kirk of Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence said, “I am predicting that, once computers are doing the driving, there will be a lot more sex in cars. That’s one of several things people will do which will inhibit their ability to respond quickly when the computer says to the human, ‘Take over.’”

Cars with self-driving abilities will lead to less attention being paid to the operation of the vehicle by drivers, and this is the major concern of Canadian authorities. Of course this is one of the main goals of the self-driving car – removing the need for the driver. But until every car on the road is “self-driving” there will be a need for a someone to monitor the way the technology is performing and to take over when necessary.  So far, we have systems that are not fully automated such as Tesla Motors Inc ’s limited Autopilot feature, and for this reason the driver should be fully ready to take control of the vehicle as and when needed.

Kirk said it is a lot easier to say than a driver, who could not be paying attention to his or her surroundings, suddenly take control of a vehicle. “People will not be able to respond in time,” Kirk said.

Tesla’s Autopilot feature – at times – fails to determine the right course of action and disengages in such situations. This is a major shortcoming for which Volvo blasted Tesla.

What Tesla’s Autopilot will and will not do

Today, Tesla’s Autopilot system will not navigate a route. You can’t give it a destination like you would with your GPS and expect it to know what to do with it.  Autopilot will make lane changes on the highway but it will not make turns or exit the highway for you. It will slow down or stop in sync with the vehicle in front of it, or a wall for that matter but it won’t recognize a red light or stop sign. It definitely needs the driver to be engaged for a successful outing – so far. But as the system matures these abilities will be added. Over the air software updates are delivered to Tesla owners regularly and one of the most common “updates” are Autopilot and Summon related.  At some point, probably not more than a few years from now according to Elon Musk, the car will be fully autonomous and that will give drivers even more boldness to do whatever they can imagine while the car takes them from point A to point B – including having sex.

Google’s self-driving car project is further along the path to autonomous driving. Google has a fleet of cars in several US cities including Mountain View, California and Austin Texas.  Unlike the Tesla, these cars do recognize road signs and signals. They also recognize much smaller detail than Tesla Autopilot does.  For example: Googles self-driving cars can accurately identify a bicycle and they understand that if the rider sticks his arm out, they are going to make a turn. Google’s car knows it needs to slow down and give the bicycle space to do what it needs to in safety. Tesla has a ways to go before it can perform tricks like this.

Need for regulating self-driving cars like Tesla

Federal officials issued a note to Transport Minister – Mark Garneau – noting that the issue of the attentive driver was a problematic one. Media reports on situations where Tesla drivers were inattentive and engaged in activities like reading a newspaper or brushing their teeth have been cited in the notes.

Transport Canada tested few semi-autonomous vehicles other than Tesla – the Mercedes C-Class and the Infiniti Q50. The officials believe there is still some time for the fully-autonomous vehicles to come to the market, and they emphasized on the fact that none of these vehicles are not self-driving in the true sense.

Tesla Motors Inc cars are not included in the Province’s autonomous vehicle pilot program, which hit the road in January. The reason being, Tesla’s autopilot feature – such as self-parallel parking and brake assist – are already covered under regulations that govern the use of such technologies.

Driverless vehicles are not prohibited on the country’s roadways under the current Canada Motor Vehicle Safety standards, but there was a provision to develop regulations around automated vehicle design in last month’s federal budget.

The Canadian government plans of developing laws to govern self-driving cars. One requirement will be vehicles should be equipped with a failsafe mechanism that can respond in situations when the driver is not available to take control. Ontario also wants the driver’s seat in autonomous vehicles to have an expert who is ready to take control of the car at a moment’s notice. Officials also suggest such car makers to deploy ‘black box’ data recorders.

At 10.44 am EDT, Tesla shares were down 1.25% at $229.52. Year to date, the stock is down over 3% while in the last one-year, it is down around 1%.

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Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both marketing and Finance side. He has work as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, playing PC games and cricket.