Tesla’s ‘fully autonomous driving’ struggles to win over loved ones to its fans

“I need you to understand that I have complete and total control. not be safe, I will have him take control of the car,” he said.

But insurance did not allay his wife’s worries. She says technology is often shocking and anxiety-provoking.

“If I’m reading, that’s when I’m like, ‘Oh, damn it,'” Sadie Krueger told CNN Business. “It would be jerky or just swerve out of the blue. You’re like, ‘Whoa, are you drunk?'”

Krueger says she loves their Tesla Model 3, but she feels the “fully self-driving” is closer to the big trucks that most drivers are and sometimes steers down the wrong lane. The technology drives like a “grandfather” in some cases, irritating nearby drivers, she says, but other times it can be aggressive.

Tesla enthusiasts with the unfinished test version of “fully autonomous driving,” currently an enhanced cruise control-like driver assistance system, find that family and friends like Krueger don’t always share their enthusiasm. The technology promises to one day lead passengers to their destinations without human intervention. Many tell CNN Business that they use the software less when driving with other people, including their romantic partners.

Passengers sometimes object to what they describe as the jerky driving style of “fully self-driving” and have asked Tesla fans not to use “fully self-driving” while in the vehicle. Some Tesla owners preemptively decide not to activate “fully autonomous driving” so that passengers enjoy a smoother ride.

Krueger said she made her husband happy as he had fun testing the software near their home in California. His YouTube channel has over 42,000 subscribers who watch his Tesla videos. But she also draws a line and asked him not to use it when riding with him in towns or where he knows it might be jerky.

But many passengers, especially younger ones like Krueger’s teenage son, and tech junkies, are excited about the burgeoning technology and relish the experience, flaws and all.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said every year from 2015 to 2022 that self-driving Teslas were probably a year or two away. He said lives will be transformed with safer roads and affordable transport. Musk described Teslas as “appreciating assets” that should be worth as much as $200,000and claims they could one day bring in up to $30,000 in gross profit as robotaxis in the automaker’s proposed future ridehail network.

In Musk’s speech, the robotaxis would operate like Uber or Lyft vehicles that could be summoned through a Tesla smartphone app. There would be no human driver behind the wheel. There may not even be a steering wheel or pedals in the vehicle. Some Tesla enthusiasts have purchased their vehicles with the intention of using them as robotaxis in the future.

But before Tesla’s technology can change the world, it will have to work first, and then it will have to win the hearts of fans. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on reactions from family and friends of its beta testers.

Tesla takes the wheel

Tesla first released an early version of “full self-driving” to a small group in October 2021. “Full self-driving” isn’t really “self-driving” in the eyes of people. regulators and autonomous vehicle experts. It’s more like enhanced cruise control that steers, accelerates and navigates intersections, but it needs an attentive human driver at the wheel who can take control at any time due to system shortcomings.
Drivers said they were both amazed and alarmed by the system, which sometimes shines and in other cases makes seemingly dangerous decisions.

Tesla owner Justin Demaree says he tries to use “fully autonomous driving” as much as possible. He considers it a historically significant work. Tesla cars with “full self-driving” send driving data back to the automaker, which uses it to fine-tune the software.

Demaree imagines a day when people might not even fly anymore because self-driving software gets so good.

“It’s going to change everything,” Demaree said. “If you don’t have to be careful, you don’t have to do anything, you can spend that time with your family or do other things that are more productive or add more value.”

But Demaree must reckon with the difference between the promised future and the current reality when his family gets in the car. He only uses “fully self-driving” about half the time he drives with his wife Heather.

“If it’s wayward, she doesn’t have to ask anymore,” Demarre said. “I just turned it off.”

Walt Corey, 70, hopes he never has to turn off the “full self-driving” software while driving alone or with his wife, Nancy. He bought a Tesla in hopes of ensuring their mobility and independence as they get older.

He says she is annoyed by the loud alarm that sounds to alert drivers when they need to take control of the car immediately because she cannot handle a situation.

“It’s really annoying,” Corey said, explaining that the noise also bothered him. “Let me know if I’m about to fall off the cliff or hit someone, but don’t because the software gets confused.”

It’s worth it?

Jeff Goin, a pilot and self-proclaimed “techno-geek,” bought a Tesla in part because he thought Autopilot, its driver-assist technology that’s more rudimentary than “fully autonomous driving,” the would make you feel less tired after long journeys. Tesla owners generally say that using Autopilot’s Autopilot feature on split highways leaves them feeling less exhausted after hours on the road.

But Goin does not use “full self-driving”. He tried the software and felt he had to be even more careful when using it.

Goin’s partner Tim regularly uses “fully self-driving”. “Wait,” Goin jokes to his friends riding with them when Tim activates “full self-driving.”

When the couple ride alone, Tim uses “fully self-driving” less. Goin said he sometimes works in the car, so he doesn’t like the distraction of being jostled. Even so, Goin says he’s sometimes impressed by the “complete self-driving”.

“Sometimes you walk into it and you think it’s come a long way. And then it stops on the train tracks,” Goin said, describing a recent incident in which he said the “driving fully autonomous” of his Tesla had detected a stop sign. road and chose to stop earlier than planned, pausing briefly on the train tracks.

Goin, who said he “tremendously” admires CEO Elon Musk, is skeptical of when self-driving vehicles will become a reality.

“There’s time on a regular scale, minutes on a regular scale, and then there’s Musk minutes,” Goin said.

Although Musk has never wavered in his promise that self-driving Teslas are upon us, the challenge of building a fully self-driving vehicle has proven to be more difficult than expected by those developing them.

Building a robotaxi that drives safely isn’t enough either. Robotaxis will need to operate smoothly enough for passengers like Goin to be comfortable. Many of them are unlikely to accept as many flaws as early adopters of the technology.

John Gibbs, a professor from Georgia who says he’s been a beta-tester for a long time, is “used to seeing things break and behave weird and you’re like, ‘Oh wow, I wonder what caused this? ‘”, did he declare. “But there are people whose personality types are much less. They just want something to work.”

One of them is Gibbs’ wife, Lane, he said, who doesn’t like it when the self-driving car is jerky around corners. It uses “full self-driving” with it right away, but it turns it off at intersections where the car needs to turn.

“For her comfort and her sanity, I just learned that it’s not worth asking her to say, ‘Why are you doing this?'” he said.