Tesla short-sellers up in arms over latest Autopilot Traffic Light update

Tesla Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control (Credit: Tesletter via YouTube)

Since the early days of the original Roadster, Tesla has been a company that warrants equal amounts of optimism and pessimism. As the company grew and remained resilient, it also started gaining a lot of sincere support from enthusiasts and outright hate from critics. Examples of the latter have become particularly evident following the release of Autopilot’s Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control feature.

Tesla’s Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control has only started rolling out to the company’s fleet of eligible vehicles. The feature’s wide release is pretty much identical to the iteration rolled out to members of Tesla’s Early Access Program. This meant that cars would stop when a stoplight is encountered, regardless of what light is on. If the green light is on, drivers are required to push down the gear selector or press on the accelerator to instruct the vehicle to move forward.

As could be seen in real-world demonstrations of the feature, Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control works well provided that drivers are paying full attention to the road. Tesla warns drivers of stop signs ahead, which gives owners enough time to instruct their cars to move forward. As with all of Tesla’s other driver-assist features like Navigate on Autopilot, Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control is bound to get better after receiving updates. Tesla mentioned this in the feature’s Release Notes: “Over time, as we learn from the fleet, the feature will control more naturally,” Tesla wrote.

(Credit: Sofiaan Fraval/Twitter)

Such a system does not sit well with Tesla’s harshest critics on social media. Tesla and Elon Musk attracts avid fans and rabid critics, and some have actually done dangerous things in the past, all in the name of the anti-Tesla cause. It is then unsurprising to see Tesla critics up in arms following the release of Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control. The criticisms were varied. Some argued that the feature is fraudulent since it does not work as advertised. Others stated that it was extremely dangerous since Tesla drivers will be stopping at green lights now. Amidst all these, there are some that take things a bit farther.

Tesla critic and proud TSLAQ member @daltonnyuphilo1, for one, stated that with such a dangerous feature being deployed on the road today, it is now a matter of moral obligation to sabotage Tesla’s efforts. “Sabotaging Tesla self-driving cars so that they no longer can take the road is a moral obligation,” he wrote, while also suggesting that Teslas should be “destroyed or sequestered completely.” Strangely enough, this is not the first time Tesla critics and short-sellers promoted such dangerous ideas.

During the lead up to Tesla’s Autonomy Day last year, reports were abounding that the electric car maker was planning on holding a demonstration of its full self-driving system. In response, a number of Tesla critics and short-sellers proposed that TSLAQ members try to crash the company’s FSD test car to see if it really is prepared for real-world scenarios. Disturbingly enough, avid TSLAQ member and California resident Randeep Hothi seemed to have taken the suggestions to heart, stalking Tesla employees who were testing FSD on the road in a Model 3 test car.

Just as suggested by short-sellers and critics, Hothi performed several maneuvers in his Honda Accord that were deemed threatening by the Tesla employees. In one instance, Hothi drove so erratically and swerved so close to the Model 3 test car that the Tesla staff actually called the police to report the incident.

A look at forums dedicated to Tesla critics and Twitter threads populated by short-sellers shows something very interesting. Despite the irony in the entire situation, critics seem to be able to reconcile the allegations that Tesla’s Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control is nothing but a fake feature propagated by Elon Musk and AI Director Andrej Karpathy, together with the accusations that the function (which should not exist because it’s fake) is too dangerous and must be taken off the road. Is it possible that this is a case of mental gymnastics? Perhaps, but we’d have to take some time to see.

In the meantime, one can simply hope that no Tesla critic actually follows through with any sabotaging plans. That will likely result in legal action, or worse, injuries on the road.

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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