A new study has now provided data on how drivers using Autopilot behave. The researchers created a model based on observations of driver eye focus before and after they disengaged Tesla’s Autopilot in 290 separate cases.
The study was released just before Tesla began distributing a Beta test of its long-ballyhooed and controversial Full Self Driving System (FSD) for Autopilot. Tesla plans to make the Beta version available only to drivers who have demonstrated good driving behavior as determined by Tesla’s remote real time measures, such as jack-rabbit starts, hard braking, and too-close following. It’s not clear how FSD will actually monitor driver behavior from past implementations of Autopilot, which warned drivers if their hands were not on the steering wheel for too long.
Its conclusion is stark: When Autopilot was active, “drivers looked less on-road and focused more on non-driving related areas, compared to after the transition to manual driving.” Moreover, the longer time drivers spent looking away from the road in front of them “were not compensated by longer glances ahead” when they did return to watching the road.
Read the article at Car and Driver.