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Do self-driving cars see motorcycles?

If this clip is anything to go by, the answer is probably no.

THIS CLIP, uploaded by YouTuber Scott Kubo, seems to show his Tesla being used in the autopilot mode on the streets of California, which is one of the few states in the US where lane splitting (filtering to you and me) is legal. In the video we see the centrally mounted display, that’s about the size of a small TV – no distraction there then, that shows the driver what vehicles are in front, behind and on either side of the car. Tesla claim that the eight cameras fitted to the car give a 360° of vision at up to 250m distance from the target object.

The problem is, there are numerous occasions in the video where filtering bikes either don’t register at all on the vehicle's display or they show up as cars. There are also some instances where the location of the bike is way off compared to its actual position, sometimes appearing to be riding centrally in the lane, directly behind or to the side of the Tesla.

And here’s the problem: Tesla state that autopilot is not to be used without some sort of human interaction. Basically, it’s not there to drive you along while you roll a fag or eat a Burger King but that isn’t stopping people from using it in that manner. And when you are filtering along and approaching the back if the robot car just as something happens in front of it, forcing it to take evasive action, and it doesn’t see you… I wouldn’t like to be the person to find out if it realises you’re there or not.

In the clip Scott explains that the current 360° camera system (2.0 and 2.5) can process 200 frames per second (or 200fps) although that is spread across the eight cameras positioned around the car. So, each camera has an equivalent frame rate of 25fps – a decent digital SLR camera can have over 100fps and an iPhone can shoot at up to 240fps. It might be that the current system just doesn’t have a high enough frame to capture fast moving motorcycles.

Have a look at the video above and make up your own mind, would you feel comfortable filtering alongside a line of Teslas with sleeping owners at the wheel?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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