Elon’s Test Track

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Who gets the blame when the government knowingly allows the public roads to be used as a test-track for dangerous technologies?

That’s the question which the federal “safety” apparat – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – will probably not be asking itself as it “probes” the self-crashing cars electric car manufacturer Tesla has been testing on public roads  . .  with living crash test dummies.

Tesla has never hidden that it offers self-crashing technology; it simply advertises it as “self-driving” capability, styled Autopilot.  It has been offering it for years. The media has been reporting on it for years. The crashes – and deaths – have been happening for years. Most recently in Texas about a week ago, when a 2019 Model S equipped with Tesla’s Autopilot system left the road “at a high rate of speed” and self-drove into a tree.

Two men were killed. Apparently, neither one was in the driver’s seat.

This is not, however, the first time.

Or the tenth time.

There have been at least two dozen other crashes over the past several years involving Teslas equipped with Autopilot technology. Videos have been posted to social media of people literally asleep behind the wheel of their Teslas. On purpose. Some of these have hundreds of thousands of views and made national network news. Owners openly brag about not driving their cars.

If NHTSA wasn’t aware there might be a problem with AutoPilot, Rip Van Winkle phone home.

NHTSA, of course, is perfectly aware. It is merely selective about “safety” – calling into question whether that is its raison d’ etre  . . . or its excuse.

A relevant example of the federal agency’s often-indifference to “safety” being the recent fiasco over lethally defective Takata airbags.

Not the bags, themselves. The reaction to the deaths caused by them.

Even though NHTSA knows that there are still tens of thousands of cars on the road equipped with these known-defective bags – which can and already have killed – it refuses to allow car dealers or independent mechanics to even temporarily disable them until all of them can be replaced.

Perhaps because that would set a dangerous regulatory precedent for the disabling of a government-mandated “safety” device.

It also might raise uncomfortable questions about the mandating of “safety” technology in the first place, since no “safety” technology – including even seat belts – is perfectly “safe.” Sometimes, they kill. They may, on balance, save more.

But when it is our lives on the table, perhaps it ought to be up to us – our right, even –  to weigh the risks and rewards?

But then, there’s no power – for government “safety” apparatchiks – in that.

Is it possible that NHTSA has looked away from the debris – and gore – left in the wake of self-crashing Teslas because of the political importance of coddling Tesla? Because it is driving the push for electric cars?

It’s noteworthy that the same federal “safety” apparat that hasn’t showed much interest in self-crashing Teslas has also shown not-much-interest in self-immolating Teslas, either.

On a per-capita basis, Teslas are more fire-prone than ’70s Pintos – which never just caught on fire.

You had to run into one first.

But several Teslas have gone up in smoke while parked – because of battery fires. These fires burn extremely hot, too. It took four hours to extinguish the fire that resulted after the AutoPiloted Texas Tesla piloted itself into a tree.

There is clearly a problem. Mr. McGoo could see it.

NHTSA is blind to it.

But the self-crashing problem is interesting for different reasons. If a Tesla catches fire because of a defect in the battery it is obvious who’s at fault. Or at least, it’s obvious who isn’t at fault.

You can’t blame the owner. All he did was buy the thing – and park it.

But when a “self-driving” Tesla self-crashes itself because no self was driving the thing, who is responsible for the crash?

Is it the person who wasn’t driving?

Who was encouraged not to by dint of the car’s manufacturer, who built it to “self” drive and marketed that capability as a feature, meant specifically to attract buyers? Is it reasonable to expect such buyers not to use the feature?

Tesla – Tesla’s lawyers – says it cautions the people who buy its AutoPiloted cars to always be “prepared to intervene” – that is to say, prepared to drive when the car appears likely to crash if someone doesn’t intervene. As in, keep your foot covering the brake and your hands on the wheel or at least, hovering over it.

No checking emails!

This is pretty cheeky stuff – right up there with the infamous catalytic converter “test pipe” of the late 1970s that came with a warning that it must never be used in place of the catalytic converter, notwithstanding it was made for precisely that purpose.

We won’t tell if you won’t.

Just as “self-driving” technology is made precisely to let the driver not have to – and everyone knows it.

Else why bother with it? What would be the point of “self-driving” tech that requires the driver to be “ready to intervene” at any moment?

The point, of course, is to bait customers with a feature that no other car offers. Teslas are expensive – and impractical, being electric cars. They are very quick – briefly. They take a long time to get moving again. How to counteract these negatives? By sexing things up. With features that wow the prospective owner – and the owner’s friends and family.

Look what it’ll do!

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this – provided no one gets hurt. More specifically, provided innocent bystanders aren’t hurt. But Tesla’s Autopilot isn’t just a threat to those not behind (or asleep at) the wheel.

It is a threat to anyone in the car’s path.

Tesla is responsible for that. Not the code. Not the tech.

And NHTSA has enabled all of it.

Maybe we’d be better off looking out for or own “safety.”

Which includes keeping a look out for self-crashing Teslas.

.  . .

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  1. OK Eric, Is there something wrong with my liking of the shape of the frontmost diapered? At least she doesn’t have the burka.

  2. I have seen only one Tesla this part year in SE Wisconsin. We will have to find new name for old Indian names. Other than the French
    named places all will go as Pontiac did. I never did find a good one in cruising the yards.
    The butter that had the most attractive maiden dumped her for total bland. Heck, the gal was designed by an enyun.

  3. how do you hand a “self driving” car to the public that can’t detect off road conditions and solid objects in its path. how can autopilot be blinder than a bat.
    i’m sure its been covered, but an autopilot capable vehicle that can potentially accept remote control is a scary thought. not to mention computer glitches. how quickly your vehicle could be turned into a weapon against you.
    that’d be horrible if elon, et al could remotely seize the controls of some random car and drive it into a tree, just to hear the aftermath on the news.

  4. “Who gets the blame when the government knowingly allows the public roads to be used as a test-track for dangerous technologies?”

    Same could be said for the covid shot

    See a pattern?

    • Dan,

      “See a pattern?”

      Honestly Dan?

      The only pattern I see is people believing government good, some things government does are bad. Or at least questionable.

      The “problem, reaction, solution” is apparently invisible to the naked eye.

      You don’t get to three masks and multiple shots when people are cognizant of a pattern.

      The common cold, when seasoned liberally with fear, just means that you are some nut job conspiracy theorist Dan Dan.

  5. From a typical product safety FMEA point of view TM’s “autopilot” should never have been put into production. The ‘pay attention’ part is absurd because the goal of the system is not to pay attention. However for total control of people the technology is attractive to governments and control freaks thus it is given a pass.

  6. Self Driving cars are a stepping stone to controlling the population in it’s ability to move freely. That is why Elon is getting a free pass for the moment. (His day will come when his Marxist friends pull his rug,) In the future, you will have to *ask* your car to take you somewhere via programming. It may take you there or become a brick. Also you wont be able to go far due to elect range, so you’ll be stuck in your Covid-Blue State and not free to travel to a free Red-state. (Who picked those colors by the way?)
    (Hmmm….based on your social media posts, computer usage and websites visited you must be a libertarian….want to see Rand Paul at at a political rally….not.)

  7. Where are the tort lawyers, so beloved of the Democratic party?

    Wikipedia mentions only one (1) class action suit over Tesla autopilot:

    Autopilot 2 class-action lawsuit

    On April 19, 2017, Tesla owners filed a class-action lawsuit due to Tesla exaggerating the capabilities of its Autopilot 2 to consumers. The lawsuit claimed that “buyers of the affected vehicles have become beta testers of half-baked software that renders Tesla vehicles dangerous if engaged.”

    On May 19, 2018, Tesla reached an agreement to settle the class-action lawsuit. Under the proposed agreement, class members, who paid to get the Autopilot upgrade between 2016 and 2017, will receive between US$20 and $280 in compensation. Tesla has agreed to place more than $5 million into a settlement fund, which will also cover attorney fees.


    Two hundred eighty (280) dollars — BWA HA HA HA! That’s less than Elon spends on a bottle of claret at dinner.

    Reminds me of when I mailed a nickel ($0.05) to the Clinton Legal Defense Fund. Feel the contempt!

  8. The borrowing of the term “autopilot” makes me think that trust in these systems is predicated in part on the ubiquity of reliable autopilot systems in aviation (where, btw, aircraft are usually separated by thousands of feet), and the belief that those are more automatic than they really are. Hey, if it works for a gazillion-dollar airliner, surely Elon can make it work in a car, right?
    I almost always use the autopilot when flying my simulated 737-800. It can even “auto-land” if the runway is equipped for it. But it’s not just a matter of pushing a CMD button on the mode control panel. Every step of the trip is first entered in the flight management computer, starting with a standard instrument departure, following various airways and waypoints, and ending with a standard terminal arrival and meticulous monitoring to make sure the aircraft captures the glide slope and is in a stabilized approach and properly configured to land.
    And as far as I know there’s still no such thing as auto-takeoff. When the robot voice says “Vee-one,” a human mind still decides in a split second whether you’re going into the air or not.

      • Yep, just as programming a CNC machine to make parts is lazy. But if you’re looking for true simulation of how that aircraft is usually flown, you won’t get it by hand-flying all the time.

        • Roland,


          A friend of mine recently retired from Hawaiian. He liked to make fun of my 150. Said props are for boats.

          But, while he had almost ten times the hours I did, he readily admitted he had lost his stick & rudder skills long ago.

          His wife said his “seat of the pants” had atrophied.

          I did my solo forty years ago last month. A BE-77 Skipper. I put the 35th hour on it that day.

          Why are you flying a Boeing on the sim?

          I knew from day one that I would be “that guy” if I got in a retractable. Even though the Air Force made us announce gear down an welded.

          • For the first month or so that I had X-Plane, my yoke and rudder pedals were on backorder, so I had to control everything with the mouse and keyboard/keypad. I was struggling with the Cessna 172, so one day I tried the default 738 and found it much easier since with two engines it at least likes to go straight down the runway. Then I discovered the free Zibo Mod 738, which has to be one of the best aircraft you can get for a desktop simulator. I enjoy making flight plans and using the automated systems – and yes, hand-flying sometimes. It’s a very popular plane, so there’s lots of help available. It’s also kinda cool to be able to read training stuff from Boeing and actually understand most of it.
            One of my regrets is not continuing the flight training that I started 40 years ago. A friend who is a retired Army helicopter pilot has offered to teach me in his plane for the cost of fuel, but he lives 500 miles away, and I’m not sure my remembery is up to it now.

            • Roland,

              I had to look up X-Plane. Pretty awesome simulator.

              My newest flight sim is Century of Flight from comrade Gates. But I’ve had a dozen or so over the years.

              Do you remember the one from Sub Logic? I ran that on a 386 machine with Winders 3.1. Back when “wysiwyg” first came out. I thought it was the greatest invention in the world.

              Check out this video. https://www.google.com/search?q=first+sublogic+flight+simulator&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwiW79vC2anwAhUFL60KHVRHAXwQ2-cCegQIABAC&oq=first+sublogic+flight+simulator&gs_lcp=ChJtb2JpbGUtZ3dzLXdpei1pbWcQAzoCCAA6BAgAEBg6BwgjELACECc6BAgeEApQ3bsBWJbRAWCB3AFoAHAAeACAAdcCiAGADZIBBzAuMi40LjGYAQCgAQHAAQE&sclient=mobile-gws-wiz-img&ei=qOyNYJb7AYXetAXUjoXgBw&bih=553&biw=375&client=safari&prmd=sivn&hl=en-us#imgrc=9ZZD-l5YYQWIMM

              That shows the advanced graphics on the Apple. My IBM clone version was even more primitive.

              But if you flew it by the numbers it worked without that annoying crash sound.

              You enjoy making flight plans?

              Do you use a sectional chart?

              I guess I still enjoy planning a flight, but one of the benefits of owning vs renting is no more having to file a flight plan.

              Another big benefit is the joy of ignoring customs. Fly to Canada and get in the pattern at a couple little airports then go to your intended destination.

              “It’s also kinda cool to be able to read training stuff from Boeing and actually understand most of it.”

              Damn, you must really sharp. Even the ones I know who fly real Boeings tell me they are lucky to understand half of it.

              Do you keep track of your hours on the sim?

              • Hi T,

                One of the few regrets I have is not having taken flying lessons when I was younger and had the time – and when it was still financially feasible. I have thought about ultra-lights but the truth is I barely have time to keep the TA on the “flight line.”

                I do, however, occasionally have fantasies of money and time and being in a position to get – and fly – something like a Cirrus Vision jet. Or – much better, though obviously much more dangerous – something like an Arado 234.

                • I would recommend a Long EZ for you Eric.

                  You have to work very very hard to kill yourself in a canard wing aircraft.

                  John Denver managed to do it but he was reaching into the back seat. You’d have similar results doing the same thing while driving the TA.

                  • Ain’t it funny how the famous
                    Always seem to die in threes?
                    When they’re not crashing planes
                    They’re skiing into trees.

                  • If you read the accident report on John Denver’s it was actually a really goofy one. The ailerons were built way too heavy and went into uncontrollable oscillation. Plane building details matter a LOT.

                • I came really close to pulling the trigger on getting licensed after getting my part 107 (commercial drone pilot) license. But in the end it would have been way too expensive to get to the point of being able to fly in all weather, and probably many years. So I fly drones and simulators instead. Nothing like the real thing, but within reach of a middle class income.

                  • “too expensive to get to the point of being able to fly in all weather”

                    Why do you want to fly in all weather?

                    If you’re in a hurry to get somewhere, air travel is NOT the way to go. It’s the mindset not the mode that kills.

                    • Because I live in an area where the weather forecast is a suggestion. Things can turn south pretty quickly and randomly. Don’t think a sport cert would cut it.

              • Wow, that brings back memories of my first “computer,” an Apple IIe.
                X-Plane 11 is the only sim I’ve had. I had heard that MS Flight Simulator 2020 was very good, but I gave up on Windows years ago and FS won’t run on a Mac. I’ve heard real pilots say they like X-Plane better.
                I use Simbrief for planning (again, lazy I suppose), and subscribe to Navigraph to keep my AIRAC data up to date. For those who want a real person telling them what to do, VATSIM provides live ATC. I’ve used X-Plane’s built-in robotic ATC a little, but I usually just do what I want. I do not keep track of hours. Simming has turned out to be a lot like my drone in that sometimes I spend more time fighting with updates than I do flying. Something is always telling me I have to install the new version. Then that update screws up something else.
                There’s a European “Real 737 Pilot” who live streams his “Alpaca Airways” flights once or twice a week, from cold & dark to shutting down on the stand, using mostly X-Plane, the Zibo Mod, and VATSIM. He’s a delightful guy, but it’s sad to see how the covid freakout has all but destroyed his livelihood. He mentions every now and then how he’s hoping to get a real flight “this month.”

                • Hey Roland,

                  All the guys in the Air Force that fly military planes are officers. They went to the O Club to drink.

                  I was enlisted so I was relegated to the NCO Club and barred entry to the O Club.

                  BUT, and it was a big but, I was a member of the aero club learning to fly civilian planes. That club had very strict rules. One rule was that I attend a monthly safety meeting.

                  BUT, if you missed the safety meeting you could go to the O Club, review the minutes of the meeting, and remain a member in good standing.

                  As it turned out, you could go and review the minutes anytime. Can’t be too safe.

                  I then became somewhat of a fixture there. And I stuck out like a sore thumb.

                  Working in supply I was able to arrange some mutually beneficial favors with the military pilots.

                  The only plane I was refused a flight on was the 747 carrying the shuttle Enterprise.

                  I managed to talk or trade my way onto all the cool Lockheed cargo planes, Hercules, Starlifter, and the Galaxy.

                  Experienced zero G in the Guppy. Put on a real diaper for the F15 and F4.

                  I never ran across a two seat F16. 😟

                  I even got to run a couple hundred thousand rounds through the Beretta when it was being tested.

                  If a pilot happened to be a real CFI I would get to log .2 hours or so in the left seat.

                  One thing that is universal in the aviation community is the encouraging nature of pilots.

                  If you were to approach a complete stranger at a GA airport with a 50 dollar bill to defray the gas, chances are pretty good you’d get a ride. Many times you’ll get the ride and be able to stick that picture of Mr. Grant back in your wallet.

                  Take your friend up on his offer Roland. You ain’t getting any younger.

                  Besides, in this current environment you may need that skill to get away from our masked friends.

                  • Wow, cool. A tennis friend (and GA pilot) works weekends at a small airport near us. He said there’s a group of retired airline pilots that gets together there on Saturday mornings for coffee and BS. Next time I need small-engine gas I’m going to crash that party. Funny you should mention the Long-EZ. My Army friend built one in the 90s and I made a few parts for it. Not sure what he has now.

                    • Long EZ.

                      It will climb in a stall I’m told.

                      Guy at Pontiac, MI airport had one. Claimed he made most of the parts at Kelsey Hayes before he retired.

                      First time he took me up in it, he turns around and says, “We have been cleared for liftoff. Two. Seven. Right. And, I, feel the need for speed”.

                      He then CRANKED UP Danger Zone on his homemade avionics/stereo (super loud even with my headset on) and about the time Kenny says “shove it into overdrive” we were over the lake and going vertical.

                      Military jets got nothin’ on the Long EZ. Except the missilery and cannons.

                      But if you can run a CNC…

                    • “ I’m going to crash that party. ”


                      And hangar flying can present all kinds of business opportunities.

                      Any pilot that still has all his teeth usually has lots of cash, probably owns a business or two.

                      A person like RK with skills could easily find himself deluged with work.

                      I met a fellow who made paint booths. I started wiring the ones he sold around Detroit. Ended up flying to Georgia to do them.

                      It’s not like he couldn’t find an electrician who did explosion proof in Georgia. He knew I liked to fly and went out of his way to see that I was able to get in the air and still have a couple bucks in my wallet.

    • That’s exactly right. And people’s perception of a modern aircraft is that it basically flies itself. I began studying for a GA license a few years ago, but quickly figured out that without a business write off it wasn’t in the budget (everyone I talked to about getting licensed was a doctor or lawyer who claimed they used it to travel between offices, which I’m sure they did once or twice a year to keep in the good graces of the IRS). One thing picked up on was all the radio navaids scattered all over the world, the Victor airways. That and wake turbulence which pretty much dictates aircraft distance and therefore limits volume. But more to the point is the idea of an autopilot that makes it simple to go hands off for hours. At best it lets the pilot eat lunch or use the restroom. But what it really does is allows for the flight crew to do more of the navigation and planning for the next task. Driving an automobile is an Oder of magnitude easier than flying, but also substantially more random.

      • “Driving an automobile is an Oder of magnitude easier than flying, but also substantially more random.”

        That’s just wrong.

        Without the obstructions flying is much simpler.

        Think about 47BA. Payne Stewart and friends were dead long before that plane came down.

        Put your car in gear and let it go down the street and it will crash with plenty of fuel.

        Aircraft are inherently stable and require very little input. You can’t drive a car for any length of time with your hands off the wheel.

        It’s Hot Wheels versus Guillows RK.

        The requirements for the Mile High Club are very straightforward. Elevation 5,280 +/- 50 ft.
        Maintain heading +/- 5 degrees.
        Maintain airspeed +/- 5 knots.
        And of course the carnal part.

        That can be achieved in any aircraft. The use of autopilot is considered cheating.

        This is why I encourage people to start early and start in sailplanes.

        That required 5,280 becomes more difficult to maintain in a glider the longer you can maintain the carnal functions.

        • LOL. My bedroom is at 5329 feet so I guess I’m already a member…

          I understand your point, but all the other stuff you have to do when flying takes away the simplicity. Like your punishment for making a mistake. If you are drifting because of wind and didn’t anticipate it you might be miles off course if you’re not paying attention. If you drift in a car you’re going to know pretty quickly.

          • “ LOL. My bedroom is at 5329 feet so I guess I’m already a member…”

            I thought you were around eight grand. Aspen?

            You may be confusing the mini law degree requirements.

            Just like parallel parking after you do it a few times your brain automatically corrects for drift and those kinda things.

            When you think about it, your brain is performing beacoup calculations even riding a bike. You naturally cop a lean when the wind is blowing.

            Same thing with a crab in the plane. At least if you have a map in hand. I can’t attest to what it’s like with a glass cockpit.

            I tend to live in the past.

            When Cessna brought back the 172 it had fuel injection. I had a major panic attack the first time I made a landing. No carburetor heat!

            Even going inverted was a bit freaky. The engine never shut off. My brain was waiting for a silence that never came.

            Since it’s especially difficult to find a cop in the sky, I tend to “forget” some of the rules.

            And I’m not sure what kind of punishment you mean.

            • I lived in Aspen for a few years, in employee housing. Now I just work there most days. It was an interesting time for sure, and nothing like what people assume being a “local” would be. For an airplane nut it was heaven. My apartment was in the business park across the street from Sardy Field. I used to go sit on the berm overlooking the airport with a scanner and just watch planes all day. Even now when it gets too hot down valley for cardio after work, I will usually go for a run around the field at lunchtime with LiveATC in the headphones.

              As for punishment, that ground comes up awful quick when the prop stops spinning. But to your point it all comes down to hours in the air until flying becomes instinctual and muscle memory, something I don’t really have time or money for. $200/hr chews up disposable income pretty quickly. There was probably a time when a middle class adult with a full time job could put in the time to get licensed, but from what I’ve seen if you don’t do it when you’re young and eligible for “youth rates” it probably isn’t going to happen. That and the system is set up for people who what to go commercial, not just do it for a hobby.

              • “As for punishment, that ground comes up awful quick when the prop stops spinning.”

                First of all that’s not true. All planes can glide and have a best glide speed.

                That why I recommend YOU get a license in a glider. Cheapest, easiest, fastest way to get your papers in order. With the added benefit of no one fondling your balls while you turn your head and cough.

                Let me give you three examples of why you should go glider. Other than the fact the Air Force Academy does it that way not too far from your 5,329ft carnal operation center.

                All three of the reports listed equal occupants and survivors.

                The dude Tom Hanks played in the movie about a guy who was just doing his job and made a not so miraculous water landing in the Hudson River.

                The dude William Devane played who ran out of gas in Canada and landed at a racetrack.

                And the dude who was going from Toronto to Lisbon, ran out of gas and took a leisurely 19 minutes to land on an island in the middle of the fucking ocean.

                Besides the obvious fact that Canadians seem to have difficulty with fuel, the aforementioned dudes were all glider pilots.

                Watch this guy land in Boulder without that annoying propeller.


                Be the dude RK!

                • Hi T,

                  One of the great boons of living out here in the Woods is having some land – and knowing people with more of it. I have friends with land enough to . . . land on. And that makes me think of a Redneck version of John Travolta’s situation (he has a home that is also an airport and flies his 707 right up to it, apparently). Being a Freak, my affections, airplane-wise incline toward freaky old stuff. The dangerous – expensive – stuff. If I were to stumble upon a cache of Nazi gold buried in my field, I would be very tempted to “get my papers in order” and acquire something suitable, like that AR234 or perhaps a Heinkel 162. Can you imagine the fun streaking around in such a thing and the effect it’d have upon the Woke? It’d curdle their soy!

                  • Morning Eric,

                    “Can you imagine the fun streaking around in such a thing and the effect it’d have upon the Woke? It’d curdle their soy!”

                    You might unravel a man bun or two.

                    • Hi T,

                      Yup! Those Jumo turbojets made just the right sound. So as the P&W 707 engines. Got-damn; they give me a rise in my Levis!

  9. >“at a high rate of speed”
    Speed = distance/time
    a.k.a. “rate of travel”
    v = ds/dt
    Acceleration = Speed/time
    a.k.a.”rate of change of speed”
    a = dv/dt = d(ds/dt)/dt
    As written, these are scalar equations, i.e. all quantities have magnitude but no direction.
    But in fact v is a vector quantity, and when written as such is known as velocity.
    Velocity is speed with an associated direction.
    Velocity is *not* “just a fancy word for speed,” although you will see it misused that way by ignorant people, such as baseball coaches, who will tell you their star pitcher “has great velocity, and can put the ball exactly where he wants it to go.” Um, yeah, coach.
    Acceleration is also a vector quantity, being the rate of change of velocity.
    Vector quantities may change direction without changing magnitude.
    in that case, the time derivative of the vector is non zero.
    Think of the moon falling around the earth, which is constantly accelerating, since the velocity vector is constantly changing direction. Astute readers will note the orbit is elliptic, which implies a change in magnitude as well.
    All of he above is nothing but freshman Newtonian physics and first semester freshman calculus.
    My apology to those readers who already know this stuff. I did not mean to insult anyone’s intelligence.
    But, of course, we cannot expect police personnel to understand the difference between speed and velocity, let alone between velocity and acceleration. I surmise the Tesla left the roadway at high speed, but not necessarily at high *rate* of speed (high acceleration), although that is possible.
    The highest acceleration occurred, no doubt, when it hit the tree, and its speed went from (whatever it had been) to *ZERO* in a very short time. The “rate (of change) of speed” was very large when the car hit the tree, undoubtedly much larger than when it left the roadway.
    Since the car came to a stop, all its kinetic energy was dissipated by being absorbed by the vehicle (and the tree). We can see from the photo that the energy absorbed by the auto deformed its structure permanently, which is to say the materials were deformed beyond their elastic limit, meaning he energy of deformation cannot be recovered (ya think?).
    Note that kinetic energy is a scalar quantity, and is proportional to the *square* of (relative) velocity.
    K.E. = 1/2 (mv^2)
    Thus two vehicles approaching each other from opposite directions, each at speed of 25mph, have the same relative velocity (same total K.E.) as one car traveling 50mph which hits a parked car, or a tree.
    Lesson 1: Do not wander into opposing traffic. CHP tells us they expect *at* *least* one fatality in any head-on collision.
    Personal note:
    I had the misfortune to be involved in a head-on traffic collision, more than 30 years ago.
    I was minding my own business, driving a Ford Ranger. The other driver, a motorcyclist, crossed the double yellow line and hit me head on. The Ranger was totaled, but I walked away. The motorcyclist died two hours later in hospital, of massive internal injuries.

    • Good stuff, Turtle –

      Except as regards the accident; even though obviously not your fault, it’s nonetheless a horrible thing to be involved in.

      • The motorcyclist was an armed government employee.
        The t.a. investigation was conducted by the agency by which he was employed. The report ran to 49 pages, and took the agency 30 days to complete. The report completely exonerated me.
        I spoke with the cyclist’s work (riding) partner, who was distraught with the loss of his comrade, but bore me no animosity. I heard rumors, via my own grapevine, that there may have been some of the deceased’s co-workers who did not accept the official conclusions. As the saying goes, de Nile is not just a river in Egypt.
        My GF at the time was a Vietnam veteran whose MOS had been photographer. Debbi did not take ceremonial photos. She hung out of helicopters and took battlefield photos, which she couriered to D.C in a briefcase shackled to her wrist. She survived two helo crashes, and had permanent nerve damage in one foot as a result. Debbi’s best friend, Dave, who was my co-worker at the time, had been 82nd Airborne in ‘Nam. Bronze Star, Purple Heart. She was closer to Dave than she ever would be to me, although we were living together at the time. Shared experiences, experiences they wish they never had..
        Following the wreck, Debbi said to me, “Well, you are one of us now.” I had no idea what she was talking about at the time, but I found out.
        PTSD is very real, and a very shitty thing to have to experience. I was fortunate to experience “only a taste,” (one day) but that was bad enough.
        I can only observe and imagine what goes through the minds of those who were “in the shit ” for years at a time. I can tell, from what I know, that those minds are damaged forever. Mine, fortunately, is not, although it took awhile.
        in my experience, once you have “been there, ” if only for a little while, you develop a kind of “radar” for such others. (Not just military vets, but t.a.s & other tragedies). I can spot such people, and feel a strange bond with almost all of those I have met. Strange stuff…

    • Sounds like suicide to me. You want the Darwin Award, go for it.

      My bet is Tesla drivers are paying more attention to their driving skills and not relying upon a faulty auto-pilot system that can equate to a death sentence or might as well be, just a matter of time.

  10. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tesla+antinag

    How to videos showing ways to defeat Tesla’s reminder to keep your attention on the road. Why are these permitted by the algorithms? Shouldn’t they be blocked? I guess telling people how to defeat a safety feature is ok, as long as you don’t use words that might make them cry.

    Bigger issue is why doesn’t the autopilot get wise to the tricks? If it’s so smart how can a beanbag fool it?

    • Hi RK,

      I think it’s because Musk wants people to use Autopilot – to be able to not drive the car. As Dr. Strangelove put it, that’s the whole point of the thing!

      • Of course. Not mentioned is that Elon is logging every mile driven by every Tesla. The AI is slogging through all that video and telemetry, learning how to drive. Every correction is noted and considered a learning experience for the AI. A crash? That which doesn’t kill the company makes it stronger. Every Tesla driver is a beta tester for autopilot.

        And it is interesting to note that Tesla uses a technique for situational awareness that has been rejected by all the other players. Not saying that consensus is required for technical advances but the people who have been doing this stuff for the military since Elon was in diapers think LIDAR is a requirement. Not Tesla though. They think they can do it all with optical cameras. Maybe they are right, but considering even my vacuum cleaner has a LIDAR sensor and it gets around just fine, I think they, might be right.

    • Invent a better mousetrap…

      There has never been a successful way of “idiot-proofing” anything. And AI is fundamentally limited to imitating, at best, an extremely stupid human. Actually, most dogs are probably smarter and more creative than any AI. The only thing computers really have on us, really, is the fact that they are very efficient and accurate at performing calculations (especially the repeated variety, which is mind-numbingly boring to try to do yourself). They just aren’t good at dealing with random, unexpected, new, or unpredictable situations.

  11. The US Psychopaths In Charge is the largest criminal enterprise in the history of the species. Not to mention the most insane. Sane moral behavior is not compatible with it. It’s not even on its radar. Everything it does relates to money and power. And nothing else. They don’t mind if a few of us get burned up, or crash into trees, or have hand grenades, aka air bags, go off in our face, as long as they have their power increasing, along with their budget.

  12. Meanwhile Audi in the 1980’s and Toyota a few years ago gets crucified for what turned out to be incompetent drivers instead of design flaws.

    If the government was actually interested in “our” safety, it would order the cars recalled and the airbags and autopilot shut off. But it doesn’t.


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