Texting and driving at the same time is a big no-no! Not just because your inattention can cause someone’s death and self-inflictinjuries but also because it’s actually illegal in 47 states. But what if you weren’t the one doing the driving but your car? Zack, the famous YouTuber behind the channel @JerryRigEverything, put a Tesla Model X to the test – would AutoPilot allow you to safely text? Is there a workaround for heavy texters they don’t know about?
Before you find out the answer, let’s see the context. So, Zack took a friend’s Tesla for a long drive towards Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. AutoPilot didn’t kick in until he was driving and the car saw and acknowledged the lanes in front. When that happened, a steering wheel icon appeared on the dashboard and the real thing started moving by itself
Here’s where Zack pushed its luck: could he look anywhere but at the road and rely on the AutoPilot to keep moving? Would the car still move with his hands off the wheel? Mind you, we’re talking about a semi-autonomous system:
As you saw, the car forcefully stopped after he spent a long period of time distracted. The problem, as Zack pointed out, was the manner in which it did stop – in the middle of the road.
Another issue we’re seeing now is the car’s lack of reaction to a potential medical emergency. Let’s say that the driver failed to take control of the wheel because he passed out – the AutoPilot on Model X would simply stop. With the right DMS, though, the software could be improved to tell the difference between a texting emergency and a health one. Moreover, an enhanced Model X could call 911 and send GPS coordinates so that the driver gets help in time.
We have high hopes to see this happen in the near future. After all, Driver Monitoring Systems were the common denominator in the North Hall at CES. Everybody showcased DMS, from Mitsubishi Electric, Autoliv in partnership with Seeing Machines, Pioneer to FotoNation, Nissan, IAV and Panasonic.