Tesla drivers can finally use the vehicle’s self-driving capabilities in the heart of downtown Toronto after Elon Musk’s company removed digital barriers to the technology this week.
In March, Tesla blocked the use of its fully self-driving (FSD) software south of Bloor-Danforth. This was reportedly because the FSD had difficulty getting his TTC tram stopped in the middle of the street to let passengers off.
“The official response we got from Elon Musk was streetcars,” Chance Byung told CBC News after Tesla enthusiasts received a personal response from the company’s CEO himself on Twitter.
CBC Toronto made several unsuccessful attempts to get an explanation from Tesla on how the software update would fix the tram problem. But now that the FSD is no longer blocked, some critics are concerned about traffic safety in downtown Toronto’s core.
Bryan Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League, said: “Until we have a broader understanding of how this algorithm works, I think there are significant risks.
He says travel is dangerous for many reasons, not just because of the trams. .
Patterson said the city of Toronto should discuss potential problems caused by self-driving cars operating downtown with the state.
The Ontario Department of Transportation, which regulates the state’s self-driving cars, declined to comment on whether Tesla had explained the fix or consulted with the state before making a decision.
Police warn Tesla isn’t really driverless
Sean Shapiro, who works for the Transportation Services Department of the Constant Toronto Police Department, still says Tesla has the authority to make changes without the state.
“It was already legal in Ontario,” he said.
However, Shapiro cautions that Tesla drivers shouldn’t just sit back and relax or scroll through their smartphones while self-driving mode is active.
According to him, the vehicle has six levels of autonomy (0-5), with Tesla’s FSD falling at level three (3). This means the vehicle can react to the environment and perform most driving functions, but still require human overrides.
“It’s… something that requires the active participation of a very watch driver.”
For this reason, Shapiro adds, anyone sitting in the driver’s seat of a car in self-driving mode is just as responsible as anyone driving a normal car.
“Now is not the time to take out your cell phone,” Shapiro said, adding that drivers could use their phones while charging as if they were driving.
Shapiro says he has seen widespread exploitation of self-driving cars during patrols.
“They think they are free to do other things,” he said.
“You still have to actively participate. If you choose not to participate, you are putting your life and the lives of others at risk.”
Driverless technology is getting better, experts say
Self-driving car expert Bilal Farouk says people should be “discreetly excited” about technological advances as long as the industry is properly regulated.
Beta testing of Tesla’s FSD was introduced in Canada last March. Farooq said drivers with a safe record will be given the opportunity to test and improve the technology. This is how Tesla got to the point where it could roll out downtown, he suggests.
“I think now they feel comfortable introducing it, and that’s why we have it,” said Farouk, an associate professor of engineering at Toronto Metropolitan University. .
Relatively few accidents involving self-driving cars and pedestrians have been reported, Farouk said.
“I think the technology itself has matured in a more stable way now,” he said.
“We need to focus on making sure regulations exist.”