Some Tesla Owners Think Their Cars Can See Dead People

Some Tesla Owners Think Their Cars Can See Dead People

Tesla’s phantom braking problem and other ghosts in the machine are well known to both regulators and customers, but in this spooky season some owners are taking to TikTok to offer up a new explanation: Dead human beings from beyond the grave.

Now, I am fully aware that people say silly things on TikTok while not actually believing in said silly things, but some of the reactions seem on the level. Comments on the Verge’s most recent video with self-driving car expert Sam Abuelsamid shows plenty of people are willing to believe the ridiculous theory.

To be clear: No, your Tesla cannot see ghosts. Perhaps Tesla programed cars to show random blips of pedestrians in graveyards as a laugh, but considering the hit-or-miss nature of their semi-autonomous systems, what is likely happening is the onboard computer is “seeing” gravestones and interpreting them as people because it has no animation for graves. That’s Abuelsamid’s theory as well. From the Verge:

Tesla has opted to rely solely on cameras for doing their driver assist features. Cameras are passive sensors. They’re capturing light that’s being reflected off of other objects from unknown sources. Which means that they don’t really know where an object is in physical space.

But just because we’ve seen Teslas mistake the moon for a yellow light, it doesn’t make the car a cautious werewolf. Teslas have mistaken a washer and dryer for a bus, a billboard for a stop sign, a cop car for no impediment at all and footpaths full of people for open roads. It’s not unbelievable that the cars would mistake gravestones, something a driver doesn’t normally encounter, and registers those markers as some sort of impediment. Take, for instance, this video from a year ago of a Tesla capturing “ghosts,” including a dog and one on a motorcycle; all objects the car is programmed to look for. It’s a blip that is likely ignored by drivers while on the road, but in a cemetery suddenly it seems significant.

You know what’s scarier than potential ghosts on your infotainment screen? The latest update to the Tesla’s so-called Full Self Driving software, which is so bad that some of the beta drivers are actually scared to use it. This week, the feds announced a criminal investigation into Tesla’s semi-autonomous system Autopilot. The over 800,000 vehicles rolling around in traffic with us right now carrying potentially criminally negligent software that could kill and maim. It’s enough to give anyone the frights.

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