Is it safe to ride a Tesla self-driving car? NASA recently asked this question, and their studies revealed that drivers felt sleepier on full self-driving (FDS) and partially automated vehicles.
Automated vehicles are slowly taking over the world. By definition, these are vehicles capable of sensing their environment and operating without human involvement. The most popular example is arguably the Tesla cars with its Autopilot.
YouTube channel VISION posted a video explanation on some of the technologies that work with Tesla vehicles. To highlight, Tesla uses sensors, live trackers and an intuitive program that interprets lane lines, cars, people or other objects down the road. Tesla FSD is recognized as one of the most advanced systems for automated vehicles up to date.
But is it safe? NASA proposed a different argument.
NASA Studies Show Drivers Feeling Sleepy on Full Self-Driving Vehicles
According to Times Now, NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley conducted an experiment on human interaction with autonomous systems. Erin Flynn-Evans, director of the Fatigue Countermeasures Lab at Ames, clarified their research goal. "The bottom line is not that self-driving cars are more or less safe than manually driving. It's that when people don't get enough sleep, they are vulnerable in both driving scenarios,"
To summarize, they observed drivers who lacked sleep and asked them to perform both manual and automated driving.
The experiment involved two 48-minute sessions in a driving simulator. On one condition, drivers had complete control of the simulator's steering wheel, gas pedal and brake. On the second condition, a self-driving mode took control of the vehicle. Drivers were instructed to keep their hands on the steering wheel.
Results revealed that participants felt sleepier in the latter experiment. They showed signs of nodding off and a slower reaction time during simulation. The effects were stronger on more sleep-deprived participants. The lack of interaction on the gas pedal and breaks possibly caused drivers to relax in a state of sleepiness.
NASA researchers plan to take advantage of their discoveries moving forward. Aside from Tesla vehicles, they highlighted the issue of aviation works, too. One of their immediate concerns was the automated procedures for Artemis lunar landing missions and possible Mars explorations. NASA speculated using these studies as basis for new procedures and related policies. They also emphasized proper sleep schedules for the concerned operators.
Tesla FSD 10: Elon Musk Talks about Pros and Cons
A key takeaway from NASA's research is to never get complacent with Tesla FSD systems. Two months ago, YouTuber Code Blue Cam uploaded a video of a "Tesla driver caught sleeping while using autopilot." The poor driver was penalized immediately.
Aside from the risk of sleepiness, Elon Musk himself warned drivers not to get confident with FSD. Earlier this year, he said FSD 10 could do the "wrong thing at the worst time." To stay safe on any Tesla, drivers must continue to stay alert and ready to take over at any moment.