Tesla Autopilot Thought the Moon Was a Yellow Traffic Light

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Tesla has been on the forefront of the electric car movement for years. Elon Musk’s company has been one of the first companies to make EVs mainstream, and it has continued to be an innovator in the space since then. Tesla is also one of the front-runners in the self-driving car industry.
Tesla has some of the best technology used in self-driving cars, and it is continuing to improve the tech all the time. Even the top company working on self-driving technology still has kinks to work out, though.
The company’s key Autopilot feature still gets confused at times, such as its recent error mistaking the moon for something other than a celestial body.

Tesla’s self-driving system thought the moon was a yellow light

The yellow moon partially obscured in the sky
Tesla Autopilot users may need to keep their eyes out at night
The Autopilot driver-assist system is the centerpiece of Tesla’s self-driving technology. Autoweek writes that even though it has been on the market for years, it still has trouble correctly identifying some objects.
With years of data, it is known what types of things can confuse the system, including fire trucks parked in emergency lanes while responding to emergency calls.
Traffic sign recognition is a fairly new feature added to the Autopilot system, and since it has been activated, it has alerted people to a concerning misidentification.
The system thought that the moon was a yellow traffic light. A Tesla owner alerted Musk on Twitter about “the moon tricking the autopilot system,” with the car wanting to slow down at what it thought was a yellow light.

Tesla’s mistake is a concerning revelation

Anytime the self-driving system mistakes one object for something else, it’s a problem. It’s not as critical in a rare situation like a fire truck on the side of the road. If it thinks the moon is a yellow light, however, that is concerning because that can have huge impacts on the performance of the Autopilot system.
When the autonomous car thinks it is at a yellow light, it slows down. Without driver intervention, this can lead to accidents because the nearby drivers aren’t expecting the vehicle to slow down.
Autoweek guesses that the moon has had a different yellow tint because of wildfire smoke in the atmosphere, which would mean this won’t happen regularly. If it does, though, it is important that the developers find a solution to the issue.

How Tesla developers try to navigate around the issue

Automakers and developers know that the self-driving systems have issues with traffic lights in general, and there are ways that they are trying to get around that problem. They’re hoping to bypass the issue entirely by having the cars communicate with the lights through vehicle-to-infrastructure technology.
Audi started deploying its Traffic Light Information system in some cities in 2016, and it relies on real-time signal information from a traffic management system via an LTE connection.
Audi’s hardware-dependent system is available at just a fraction of the intersections across America at this point. Tesla’s system is more versatile, relying on visual interpretation of the lights rather than needing special hardware installed.
Without relying on the signals from the traffic lights themselves has its advantages, but it also makes the system prone to misinterpreting them.
Self-driving cars are the future of the automotive industry, but as you can see, the technology isn’t perfect yet. Because of that, insuring your autonomous vehicle is critical.
Jerry can help you find cheap car insurance for your self-driving vehicle or more traditional automobiles.

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