speising wrote:I'm not a pilot, but i'm pretty sure that, cruising along over the atlantic at 30000ft, the pilot doesn't have to be on split-second watch all the time. If the autopilot has a problem, it'll emit some noise, the pilot puts their coffee away and starts to look for what's up.
Pretty much... most people simply don't understand that automatic driving is vastly more difficult than automatic flying. Which is one of the reasons we've had autopilot for many years, and we're still a few years away from automatic driving.
There is much more to account for on the ground. In the air you have much greater distances between you and other objects, you can change altitudes, and perhaps most importantly, you have literally thousands of people around the world who's job it is to watch where you and every other aircraft is and to prevent conflicts long before they occur.
People hear the word "autopilot" and they think it's going to work like on an airplane; that they can simply sit back and relax and if something comes up, they'll get pinged. The problem is that when driving, even if it does work that way you often have mere seconds to react. Most people find that stressful and difficult even when they're actively driving. Getting pinged out of a movie, book, daydream or whatever and then reacting to something in seconds... it's too much to expect from even skilled drivers.
In that light, using the term "autopilot" was irresponsible on the part of Tesla. That the term might be misconstrued is fairly obvious. They need to make it completely clear - obnoxiously clear - that the driver needs to pay attention.
If you're in a car, cruising on the highway on "full auto", it's nigh impossible too maintain the same level of concentration like when you're actively in control. (and if it were, it would make the autopilot useless)
There have been studies that have shown that even basic cruise control can increase the odds of driver error, because people tend to be more likely to zone out. This can be mitigated by stuff like automatic braking, adaptive speed, etc; but anything that encourages the driver to lose focus and stop paying attention is dangerous.
Google has the right idea... if a car is going to be auto driving, it needs to be so completely capable as to never need driver intervention at all.