Tesla’s Autopilot not enough for “living on the edge” for you? How about a more aggressive Autopilot on a self-driving truck? That’s probably going to the be initial reaction and fears after Elon Musk revealed on Twitter that the Tesla Semi’s autopilot will have a “Mad Max” mode. But while reality is much less exciting than the fiction it cites, this news probably won’t do Tesla’s PR much good.
To those familiar with at least the recent film, associating the words “Mad Max” with a truck will conjure up images of mayhem and destruction. Not exactly the image you’d want for a hulking truck that drives by itself. But like the Ludicrous Mode for its sedans, the Semi’s “Mad Max” mode is actually less exciting.
It all has to do with the Autopilot’s Blind Spot Threshold which is associated with the Autopilot’s lane switching algorithms. In a photo shared by Musk on Twitter, the options include Standard, Aggressive, and Mad Max. Given that order, Mad Max is going to be really, really aggressive.
Exact details of this mode are still under wraps and it might not even make it into the final version of the software. Instead, Musk is contemplating having a manual override for “hardcore lane changes”. His reasoning is that self-driving cars will always yield and are easily bullied, which is unbecoming of a truck.
Given the heat Tesla has recently received over accidents involving its Autopilot systems, now is probably a bad time to reveal a feature called “Mad Max”. Of course, Tesla has always insisted that the Autopilot still requires drivers to be attentive, which wasn’t the case in these accidents. Given the rising popularity of self-driving cars and, allegedly, Tesla’s own marketing, drivers and consumers might not always make that distinction.