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Tesla teardown reveals ‘Full Self Driving’ system relies on remote call center workers

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tesla 5g self driving

The promise of autonomous vehicles is alluring. You can zip from shop to restaurant to home without having to touch the steering wheel or pedals. That’s the exciting goal of Tesla, Google’s Waymo, and several other vehicle manufacturers. However, a little-known fact is that current so-called “full self-driving” vehicles are actually reliant upon outsourced drivers.

According to our sources in Fremont, California – the home of one of Tesla’s biggest production plants – all Tesla vehicles rolling off the assembly line include a direct high-speed 5G antennae that’s hidden in the frame of the chassis. It’s a long 5-foot copper cable that’s designed to provide a high bandwidth communication channel with remote call centers.

Why, you ask, do the vehicles need a high-speed connection to remote call centers?

Our inside sources say it’s because the cars need at least 1 Gigabyte per second downlink and uplink because the full self-driving system involves handing over steering, braking, and accelerating to a human at a remote call center.

There can be some delay if the call center worker is not able to immediately take over for the driver in our experience – leading to a warning sign that says “self-driving not available, please hold for next available operator.”

“The car kept jerking left and right. There was also a bit of lag when we went through a tunnel so the car slammed to a stop and then accelerated 0-60 in 1.9 seconds. Since we weren’t expecting it, we got a bit of whiplash and my partner is now wearing a neck brace.”

We test drove the latest Tesla Model S Plaid and were blown away at the speed, turning, range, and comfort. But the reliance upon a call center worker 6,000 miles away left us concerned. In our test drive, the call center worker was used to driving on the left side of the road so they had trouble remembering to stay on the right side since we were in the U.S. for our drive. The car kept jerking left and right. There was also a bit of lag when we went through a tunnel so the car slammed to a stop and then accelerated 0-60 in 1.9 seconds. Since we weren’t expecting it, we got a bit of whiplash and my partner is now wearing a neck brace.

Pro tip: since the connection can be spotty, put on a neck brace and be prepared for whiplash whenever using full self-driving features.

What’s your experience been with remote call center-driven vehicles? Do you find the sudden jerky motions unsafe? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or by mentioning @ProductLeaker on your favorite social media platform!

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