Tesla Autopilot results in reduced driver attention, new study finds

A new study based on MIT Advanced Vehicle Technology data found that Tesla Autopilot results in a significant reduction in driver attention when activated.

We previously reported on a long-term study on Tesla Autopilot in the Lab of MIT Advanced Vehicle Technology.

Lex Friedman, now famous for his appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience and his own podcast with thought leaders, was leading the first study, which recorded the Autopilot drives of Model S and Model X owners over nearly 500,000 miles. includes doing.

They record drivers to understand how they interact with the automated driver-assistance features under Tesla’s Autopilot package.

Using data from the study, a group of MIT researchers published a new study called “A Model for Natural Glance Behavior Around Tesla Autopilot Disengagement.”

The study found that drivers tend to look at driving-related things more often and for longer periods of time when the autopilot is on.

They found specifically that drivers would see more on the center screen:

“The model replicates the look pattern seen in all drivers. The components of the model showed that the off-road glimpse was longer than when activated without the AP and that their frequency characteristics changed. Driving-related off-road glimpses were less frequent with the AP active than in manual driving, while non-driving-related glimpses in down/center-stack areas were the most frequent and longest (22% of glimpses less than 2 s). more). There was a slight difference in the duration of the on-road look. “

This is an issue because the idea behind Autopilot is that it will take away some of the driving tasks and enable drivers to focus more on staying attentive on the road, which is what they need to do because even when Autopilot is active They are responsible for the vehicle.

The study found that drivers paid more attention to the road after turning off the autopilot:

“Visual behavior patterns change before and after AP disengagement. Before separation, drivers looked less on the road and focused more on non-driving related areas than after transitioning to manual driving. The high ratio of off-road Glimpse before it was missed was not compensated by the long look ahead.”

Tesla is releasing a quarterly “safety report,” which they use to claim that Tesla vehicles with Autopilot engaged are “about 10 times less likely to be involved in a crash than the average car”.

However, this interpretation of the data has been disputed.

In most Tesla vehicles equipped with the version of Autopilot (1.0 to 3.0), the Autopilot features are being used mostly for highway driving. A similar difference is found for the “average vehicle,” on which NHTSA’s overall accident data in the US is based.

Accidents are more common on city roads and undivided roads than on highways.

Electrek’s Tech

Obviously, this would depend on the driver. I think Autopilot can definitely help make your driving experience safer.

I’ve personally used it over thousands of miles and I find it helps me drive more safely, but I always want to focus on the road when I use the driver-assistance features. I make a point.

I think Tesla drivers should be careful not to get too complacent when using the features. Until Tesla improves the system enough to take responsibility for driving, it’s not a good idea.

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