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Tesla’s Autopilot is apparently getting confused by a billboard

The billboard features a stop sign and Autopilot doesn’t know what to do with this information.

tesla steering wheel
Image: Unsplash

Last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made some bold statements about how far along their Full Self-Driving system was towards fully autonomous driving. He might want to slam the brakes on his next predictions, as it seems the current system in Tesla vehicles is confused by a picture of a stop sign.

Yes, the path towards Level 5 autonomy (that’s when you set your destination and the car does everything else for you) is long and winding, and apparently still out of reach. Tesla might have a head start on the rest of the market, but it seems that the camera-based system has trouble with a stop sign on a billboard, tens of feet above the roadway.

Check out the tweet below that shows the issue. Tesla owner, Andy Weedman, had his Tesla slam on the brakes in this stretch of road, without any road markings that it should be picking up on. The culprit? A “remember to stop for school buses” billboard, with a large stop sign image.

I know, we’re ragging on Tesla here but it’s not all bad news. Sure, slamming on the brakes like that on a clear stretch of road would have failed your driving test, but in the grand scheme, this is a smaller glitch in the system. Admittedly, Tesla’s autopilot system is making leaps in the self-driving space, and hiccups are bound to happen.

The thing is, for truly autonomous driving, this, and many other edge cases will need to be solved. Maybe that’s why Waymo still thinks that LiDAR is needed, which would be able to tell that the billboard wasn’t a metal stop sign. Until that day, perhaps we should go back to calling these systems “driving aids” as that’s all they really are in their current state.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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