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When your car has autopilot, will you be ready to take over?

Martyn Williams | Dec. 4, 2015
When faced with nothing to do, drivers get bored and that could be dangerous.

For now, researchers don't have a good answer as to how to keep drivers engaged, aware of traffic conditions and ready to take over after minutes or hours of not having to do anything.

Airlines have battled with the same problem and have yet to come up with an answer, Casner said, despite autopilot having been around for about 30 years. But in an aircraft, pilots often at least have a minute or more to figure out what's happening before the plane is in danger of crashing. Car drivers will often have far less time, hence the worry.

Until vehicles become truly autonomous, and drivers can switch off and not have to worry about doing anything, one answer could be to deliberately create things that the driver has to do, Casner said. But no one has figured out yet what that might be.

For now, Tesla has said it's adjusting its autopilot mode to place restrictions on when it can be used. It hasn't detailed any changes yet, but they will hopefully include a requirement to at least be in the driver's seat while the system is engaged.

"There's been some fairly crazy videos on YouTube," Elon Musk said during Tesla's recent earnings call. "This is not good."


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